Signs against religious extremism

Signs against religious extremism

"Not with us" sees itself as a peace march © Matthias Milleker (DR)

Signs against religious extremism

A few hundred came to the Heumarkt on Saturday © Matthias Milleker (DR)

There should be a big demonstration with 10.000 participants. In the end, there were not even half as many at the anti-terror demonstration in Cologne. Nevertheless, the organizers hope for many imitators.

"Fall in line – be united against terror," was the demonstrators' rallying cry. With banners and self-made cardboard signs they marched through the city center of Cologne on Saturday.

Fewer participants than expected

Numerous onlookers lined the route from Heumarkt to Neumarkt and Rudolfsplatz. Round 3.000 participants answered the call of Islamic scholar Lamya Kaddor and peace activist Tarek Mohamad and demonstrated together against terror under the slogan "Not with us". Less than expected, because actually the organizers had expected 10.000 participants expected.

Kaddor was nevertheless satisfied. "If we were able to give an impetus for further initiatives and demonstrations, I don't care how many were there." She hopes to have encouraged young Muslims in particular to participate.

Many young people

There are indeed many young people among the demonstrators. This is how a group from the Islamic community in Herne made its way to Cologne. Participants are between 14 and 17 years old. "It is important that especially the youth set an example," finds one participant. 29-year-old Elias also wants to set a sign against religious extremism. "I want to take the breeding ground out of the Islam hatred that is currently rampant," he says. He was disappointed that not more people had responded to the call.

"We don't want anyone in our ranks who kills other innocent people in the name of our faith" said Kaddor to the demonstrators. "In this respect, I cannot understand why there are not more people."Kaddor did not want to rule out the possibility that the cancellation of the largest Islamic association in Germany, the German-Turkish mosque association Ditib, was responsible for the lower response. But he said it was positive that despite this, a broad alliance was
had come about. "Other Islamic associations were quite willing to participate here," she said.

Ditib stayed away

Ditib had not supported the initiative with reference to the fasting month of Ramadan. It is not reasonable for Muslims, who fast from 3:47 a.m. to 9:55 p.m., "to march and demonstrate for hours in the blazing midday sun at 25°C," the association said. This had sparked widespread debate.
Ditib Secretary General Bekir Alboga defended the No to the demonstration in the "Bild" newspaper: "Ramadan is like Christmas for me. You don't go demonstrating there either."At this time, spirituality and piety are in the foreground.

Even immediately before the demonstration, leading politicians criticized the decision. "Participating would have been better than standing on the sidelines," said German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere (CDU). Federal Justice Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) also voiced criticism, but warned against a "general suspicion" against Muslims. "The lines don't run between Muslims and non-Muslims in our country, not even between believers and non-believers. We draw our
The border between extremist murderers and the law-abiding people of our free democratic society," the minister wrote in a guest article for the "Kolner Stadt-Anzeiger" newspaper.

Follow Cologne's example

Kaddor also regretted Ditib's cancellation. "I think it has been the wrong signal not to have been present at such a peace march," she said. Especially in Ramadan, such a demonstration is important, "because extremists like to hijack Ramadan for themselves and say, now we simply want to kill innocent people.". It should not always be the extremists and Islam haters who talk about Islam. "We have to be aware of this
discourse," the Islamic scholar demanded. "We are working in Ramadan. We do sports in Ramadan. So we can also go to the streets."

Kaddor hopes more people will now follow her example. In Berlin, Hamburg and Stuttgart, he said, demonstrations are already being planned by other Muslim associations or initiatives. "If it was the decisive point that we start and other Muslims have the courage to take to the streets, then we have done everything right."

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