As the events of the weekend in Paris unfolded I exchanged text messages with friends and colleagues and spoke at length to some of them about the nature of such an attack, how and why people are motivated to do such things and what is it they represent? A Muslim colleague said to me:
They don’t represent or stand for anything I know about, that I call Islam, this is not Islam. This is not what my religion stands for. There is a verse in the Qur’an that says if you take the life of one person, it is as if you have taken the lives of all humanity, not just Muslim lives, any life, these people are not doing these things in my name.
Another friend, a Christian said:
So what are we to believe, they say they are Muslim fighting a war, what kind of war is this, this is a guerrilla war not a religious war, and it has all the hallmarks of cowards, praying on the indefensible and unsuspecting?
A Hindu man I have known for many years condemned the attacks as, “barbaric, un-Islamic, outrageous”. A Bah’ai colleague said:
I worry what will happen next we must make every effort to counter this sentiment and stick together as people of faith and of no faith. Religion is not the question here, humanity is.
A man I have known for many years with no interest or connection with any form of religion or belief said to me this morning at a friend’s funeral:
Hate is not excused by the mask of religion, hate is a cancer, and only promotes more hate.
The deliberations of ordinary people regardless of any affiliation or support for religion or belief are committed and convincing in their resolve and belief in the nature of humanity. They believe in the main, we should remain positive in the face of adversity, essentially seeking, liberty, equality and fraternity (the mantra of the French Revolutionary) in spite of the minority who seek to undermine global democracy. Standing shoulder to shoulder with all in this struggle is our obligation to each other as human beings, the Multi-Faith Centre is resolved to do so and the people of Derby too, should maintain that resolve.
Dr Phil Henry
Director, Multi-Faith Centre, University of Derby.