Charlie Hebdo Attack Fallout: Muslim Scholars Unite To Denounce Extremists, Say Islam 'Confiscated By Crazies'

(REUTERS/Vincent Kessler)A child tries to emulate members of a Muslim community as they attend midday prayers at the Grand Mosque of Paris on Thursday.

Top Muslim scholars and community leaders in Paris strongly condemned the violence committed in the name of Islam during Friday prayers in France.

As the country reels from the Charlie Hebdo attack as well as the double hostage dramas this week, the French imams called on the five million believers of Islam living in France to distance themselves from jihadists.

"We denounce the odious crimes committed by the terrorists, whose criminal action endangers our willingness to live together," Grand Mosque of Paris Rector Dalil Boubakeur said.

Boubakeur, whose message was relayed to more than 2,300 mosques in France, also appealed to French Muslims to join the Sunday demonstrations, which will pay homage to the 12 victims who died in the Charlie Hebdo shooting last Wednesday.

In other local mosques across the country, imams condemned the jihadists for claiming they were avenging the Prophet Mohammed by shooting dead some of France's best-known cartoonists at the satirical weekly.

Abdel Qader Achour, who represents Omar Ibn Al Khattab mosque near Charlie Hebdo's offices, called the fallen suspects behind the attack as being anti-Muslims.

"The people who carried out that attack in the name of Islam are not Muslims... The Prophet did not advocate violence against non-Muslims," Achour said.

Tareq Oubrou, a Muslim theologian and an imam in Bordeaux, said Muslims were furious that their religion had been "confiscated by crazies... and uneducated, unbalanced people."

These came after Muslim clerics visiting Vatican City joined the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in appealing to the media to provide information that is "respectful of religions."

"Without freedom of expression, the world is in danger," said the joint statement signed by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, according to the Catholic News Agency.

The statement, which condemned the string of violence in France, also invited the media to foster a culture of encounter by providing information and content that are always respectful not only of religions but also of their followers and practices.

At the same time, it urged religious leaders to "always promote a culture of peace and hope, able to win over fear and to build bridges among men," stressing that interreligious dialogue is the only path to walk together in order to dissipate prejudices.

Tauran, the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and the French imams expressed their shock at the shooting of editors and cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo as well as the gunning down of two French cops.

Accompanied by the French bishops' conference, the Muslim delegation also underscored their "closeness and human and spiritual solidarity to the victims and their families."

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