CAIR on Paris Attack: Marginalize Both ‘ISIS-Type Extremists and Anti-Muslim Bigots’

Patrick Goodenough | January 7, 2015 | 7:53pm EST
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'Not afraid." Parisians gathered at the capital’s Place de la Republique to react to Wednesday’s terror attack. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

( – The “proper response” to attacks like the one targeting a satirical French magazine in Paris Wednesday is not to vilify any faith, but to “marginalize extremists of all backgrounds who seek to stifle freedom and to create or widen societal divisions,” the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said Wednesday.

“We strongly condemn this brutal and cowardly attack and reiterate our repudiation of any such assault on freedom of speech, even speech that mocks faiths and religious figures,” CAIR national executive director Nihad Awad said in a statement.

Asked whether the group’s reference to “extremists of all backgrounds” included those who offend Muslims by, for instance, publishing cartoons satirizing Mohammed, CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper agreed.

“We were talking about the twin extremes of ISIS-type extremists and anti-Muslim bigots,” he said in an email.

The weekly magazine targeted in the terror attack, Charlie Hebdo, customarily lampoons political, religious and other figures. Muslims were angered by its decision in 2006 to reproduce the provocative Mohammed cartoons that had first appeared in a Danish newspaper the previous year. In 2011 Charlie Hebdo published its own irreverent Mohammed cartoon, and still others in September 2012.

Earlier Wednesday, Hooper made a similar point about extremists on both sides during an interview on MSNBC.

“Mainstream followers of all faiths need to get together and marginalize— the Muslims marginalizing the extremists on their side and also people of other faiths marginalizing this growing Islamophobic movement in the West, and now in Europe,” he said.

“You’ve seen tens of thousands of people marching against Islam in Europe, and that sends a very negative message, it creates this sense of alienation, and it adds to this downward spiral that we all somehow need to get out of.”

Hooper was referring to a series of anti-Islamist rallies in Germany since last October, with the largest – in Dresden on Monday – attracting more than 18,000 people. Counter-demonstrations have also been held in several German cities, often dwarfing the anti-Islamist protests.

Claiming inspiration from the German rallies, a French anti-Islamization group is organizing a similar event in Paris under the slogan, “Islamists out of France,” scheduled for January 18.

After Wednesday’s attack the group, Riposte Laique (Secular Riposte), called it “an act of war.”

The group called for a gathering in front of the stock exchange in Paris on Thursday evening, to pay tribute to the dead, but also to protest against Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, whom it accused of taking “no effective action against the Islamization of our country” but of instead insulting “patriots fighting against Islamic fascism.”

France has the biggest Muslim community in Europe.

Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier, displays the front page of the magazine on Wednesday, September 19, 2012, the day it published provocative cartoons of Mohammed. Charbonnier was one of 12 people killed in Wednesday’s terror attack at the publication’s offices in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

'A drawing has never killed anyone'

One of the 12 victims of Wednesday’s attack was Charlie Hebdo editor and caricaturist

In September 2012, he spoke out against the criticism – from the White House among many other quarters – over the decision to publish sketches of Mohammed at a time when Muslims were already protesting the appearance of an amateur online video clip denigrating Mohammed.

“The accusation that we are pouring oil on the flames in the current situation really gets on my nerves,” Charbonnier said. “After the publication of this absurd and grotesque film about Mohammed in the U.S., other newspapers have responded to the protests with cover stories. We are doing the same thing, but with drawings.”

“And,” he added, “a drawing has never killed anyone.”

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