“They wanted to weaken France but they have made it stronger. We must maintain solidarity as a nation in the face of those who seek to destroy it.”
On 13 November a series of terrorist attacks broke out iin the French capital of Paris. Like any other typical Friday night, Parisians were heading out to celebrate the end of a week of hard work. Many young people were on their way to meet and laugh with friends, while others were hoping to enjoy a quiet evening at a cafe.
Gunmen stormed these cafes and bars where young people had gathered. They detonated bombs at a football game and took hundreds of people hostage at the Bataclan concert hall. They murdered 130 innocent people that night.
So called ‘Islamic State’ claimed responsibility for the attacks, sparking widespread discussions and debates on the link between Muslims and terrorism. Amid the fear and confusion, some started to blame all Muslims for the attacks, while others blamed the refugees fleeing Syria. Almost immediately hate crimes against Muslims began to occur around the world, further segregating society.
Amid this, a group of young Muslims in France have come forward in an attempt to bring everyone back together. Muslim Students of France (EMF) released a powerful video condemning the attacks under the banner ‘Nous Somme Unis’, or ‘We Are United’. The video also shows the students poignantly reciting a passage from the Quran that states: “Whosoever takes one life, it is though he has killed all of humanity.”
EMF was formed 26 years ago as a student organisation – a group created for students for students, with no distinction between race, ethnicity, nationality or gender. Their aim is to fight racism and xenophobia, as well as to help and serve students in their daily lives, particularly foreign students who they say are usually alone in France. With more than 500 members across France and more than 10,000 supporters, their video on the Paris attacks went viral qucikly.
Speaking to IPF, Yanis Khalifa from EMF said that following the terrorist attacks the gorup was shocked and overwhelmed with grief, worry and fear. They felt that they needed to express their feelings and decided to make the short video, which has now resonated with people all over the world.
“We have been attacked on our soil, in our country and in our hearts. Attacking Paris was an attack on all of France. Terrorism, which aims to instil fear, anger and divisions within our society, will not win.”
The group said that they “strongly condemned” the wave of violence that occured on 13 November and that nothing would justidy the inhumanity of the acts that were committed on that evening.They hope that through the video they were able to unite people everywhere and create a sense of solidariy in France and worldwide.
“It is our intention with this video to send a strong message to the attackers and to convey an equally powerful message to our society: we are French.”
Yanis said that while members of EMF were proud to be French, they were also proud to be Muslims – a factor that formed a huge part of their identities. They hoped that the two wouldn’t have to be mutually exclusive.
“Islam is a religion of peace. That is what it has aways been and will always be.”