More than 100 Sacramento-area Muslims were joined by several French Americans and community leaders Friday afternoon to share their heartbreak over the terrorist slayings in Paris.
Gathered on the west steps of the state Capitol, Muslim leaders, some sobbing, condemned such acts of violence in the name of Islam and joined others in defending freedom of thought and speech in honor of the French journalists from the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, who on Wednesday were killed in their office. Two police officers – one a Muslim – also were killed.
French police on Friday killed two brothers with links to al-Qaida and an alleged accomplice who seized hostages at a kosher supermarket. In all, at least 20 people were killed, including the gunmen, according to The Associated Press.
“Just a few weeks ago, we were standing here sharing our outrage over the murder of schoolchildren in Peshawar, Pakistan, by terrorists. Today, we are here again sharing our revulsion on the more recent terror attack in Paris, France,” said Ras H. Siddiqui of the American Muslim Voice Foundation.
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Though the magazine “often printed tasteless and objectionable cartoons, the ultimate blasphemy here is not the cartoons published, but the act of committing murder defending the name of the prophet of Islam,” said Siddiqui, a Pakistani American journalist. “Any possible excuse given that it was done to defend Islamic beliefs does not hold water. Our world is being intimidated by terror groups from the lunatic fringe who espouse and openly engage in violence while using the defense of religion as a cover. And they do not discriminate on who they kill.”
Siddiqui, his voice breaking, said, “We will not be deterred by terror and will continue to seek a better world where peacemakers continue to be our role models. With a heavy heart, we sympathize with the people of France and share their grief ... The attackers are now dead, and I doubt that heaven is going to be their ultimate destination. They belong in hell. Vive la France!”
Imam Mumtaz Qasmi of Sacramento’s venerable downtown mosque said the Quran teaches that killing one innocent person kills all of humanity. Qasmi said he gave an hourlong sermon at the Friday noon prayer at his mosque explaining there’s no scenario where Islam can endorse “this totally sick mentality.”
French immigrants Sophie Lambert, Stephanie Lamour and Marc Birnkammer, holding the French flag, took the stage in support of peace. All said they read Charlie Hebdo. “We grew up with a lot of those cartoons,” said Lamour, who teaches cooking at the Art Institute of California. “I was completely shocked the terrorists were raised in France.”
Among the non-Muslims who spoke was Tom Hamilton of the Interfaith Council of Greater Sacramento. “Those who did this shame God, whatever you call him,” Hamilton told the crowd. “People of God do not do these things.”
Call The Bee’s Stephen Magagnini, (916) 321-1072.