United interfaith against religious fanatism

Religious communities, religious leaders and youth organizations of different faiths in France joined together, during the last few days, in condemning and protesting the atrocious attacks in Toulouse. Member organizations of Religions for Peace EIYN mobilized thousands of youth in Toulouse, Lyon and Paris, to participate in different actions in response to the killings of three kids, the rabbi  and three soldier. Below is a summary of most important actions.


Sunday 25th, there were two silent marches, that took place – one in Toulouse, and one in Paris. Young scouts from Muslim Scouts of France and Jewish Scouts of France networks led the procession of 6000 people that marched together in Toulouse in the “white march” commemorating the victims of Ozar Hatorah Jewish School of Toulouse and the soldiers.  Christians, Jews, Muslims, walked hand in hand, among them main religious Jewish and Muslim leaders. The young scouts were followed by representatives of the Jewish community, including the Chief Rabbi of France Gilles Bernheim and five imams of the mosque of Drancy. The white March  was marked by intense emotional moments. Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim, said that with Imam Chalghoumi at his side he urges “all French moderate Muslims to reject in a strong voice, this kind of hatred and fanaticism” . The imam of Drancy said that “it’s not Islam” in reference to killings committed by Mohamed Merah in Toulouse and Montauban. To refute the idea that Muhammad Merah died as a  martyr, Imam said Merah “was a criminal, he took the path of Satan, he died like a criminal and the majority of Muslims condemn that.”


In response to a call by SOS Racism and the CRIF (“Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions”), a silent March took place through Paris also on Sunday. Interfaith youth organization –L’Association Coexister – brought to the march hundreds of religious youth, coming from three abrahamic traditions. CRIF issued a call backed by Religions for Peace France asking French citizens to avoid any speech of hatred against Muslims and any confusion between Islam and Terror.

Actions by Religions for Peace

The Président of the French Chapter of Religions for Peace, Mr Ghaleb Bencheikh, immediately reacted to the killings through a press release condemning anti-Semitism and racism and asking the French people to unite. “Atrocious madness hit our country yesterday, claiming innocent lives. After the assassinations in Toulouse and Montauban, children, together with their father and teacher were killed in a Jewish school. Our minds are still suffering from this nameless barbarity. After shock and torpor has come the time of meditation and prayer. We, at Religions for Peace, France, condemn this ignominy to the utmost degree and express our sadness and absolute solidarity with the victims’ families. We would like to assure our Jewish fellow citizens of our total and unconditional support in front of this national tragedy” , declared Mr. Ghaleb Bencheikh. Read more on http://www.religionspourlapaix.org/

Religions for Peace France gathered with L’Amitié Judéo Musulmane de France (The Jewish Muslim Friendship) in a ‘meeting of silence’ on Thursday, March 22. Members of Religions for Peace in the city of Lyon participated in a silent demonstration in front of Lyon Town Hall (South East), after a call sent by Othman Mosque (which is the biggest Mosque in Villeurbanne, near Lyon, directed by Imam Azzedine Gaci).

European Council of Religious Leaders General Secretary, Mr. Villumstad, condemned the attack in Toulouse. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and the Jewish community in Toulouse after the fatale assault, leaving three small children and one adult dead. Attacks on religious communities are deplorable and call us to join hands over religious boundaries. When attacks are mortal and include children, as it did in Toulouse, we are struck by the incomprehensible injustice”, said the General Secretary. More on http://www.rfp-europe.eu/index.cfm?id=373687

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