Muslims among victims of Paris attacks
PARIS - “Killing any human is killing all mankind. Saving any human is saving all mankind,” a group of French Muslims, who joined mourners at the Place de la Republique in Paris, chanted in the wake of the Islamic State’s brutal attack on the French capital.
“Unite against brutality. Unite for humanity,” they chanted, shoulder to shoulder with French nationals of all religions, just as French Muslims died alongside their countrymen of other religions in ISIS’s indiscriminate November 13th attack.
Among the 130 killed in the attack were two sisters celebrating a birthday, a young architect, a talented violinist, a receptionist and a shop assistant.
What did they have in common?
They were all Muslims. ISIS’s bullets and suicide bombs do not take religion into account. ISIS, its gunmen and suicide bombers, engage in wholesale slaughter.
Although Muslims were a minority of those killed in Paris, historically Muslims are the greatest number of victims of jihadist attacks perpetrated by groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS. These takfiri groups view Muslims who belong to different sects — such as Shias or Sufis — or even those who follow a different interpretation of Sunni Islam as heretics.
“ISIS has been killing Muslims by the thousands for years in Africa and the Middle East,” Yasser Louati, spokesman for the Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), told Reuters.
“Now they’re killing Muslims here in France. The world ‘Islamic’ in their name is only a pretext for their ideology. Look at the series of attacks they’ve made. There’s no end,” he said.
There are approximately 5 million Muslims in France — about 7.5% of the population. That is close to the same proportion of Muslims killed in the Paris attacks based on identification by family and friends, as well as the surnames of those on the official list of victims.
Halima and Houda Saadi, two French-born sisters of Tunisian origin, were celebrating a friend’s birthday at La Belle Equipe café. Houda, 35, had recently been promoted as the café’s manager, and her sister Halima, 37, was on a short visit.
Seated outside on the terrace, they were among 19 victims killed when an ISIS gunman indiscriminately sprayed bullets in their direction. Paris is known for its café culture, with bars and restaurants boasting outdoor terraces for patrons.
“We’re just citizens like everyone else, who love our family and people,” their brother Abdallah Saadi said in the wake of the attack.
“We are all inhabitants of this planet and we need to fight for each other and help each other.”
Amine Ibnolmobarak, 29, grew up in Morocco and went to Paris to study architecture. He was a teacher at Paris’s ENSA Paris-Malaquais architecture school — the same institution from which he graduated and, inspired by his religion, conducted graduate studies on the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. He was killed as he sat on the terrace of the Carillo bar. His wife Maya suffered critical wounds.
“Amine was the quintessential young Muslim intellectual. He was concerned with spreading the peaceful values of his religion,” his former professor Jean Attali wrote on Facebook.
The list goes on: Elif Dogan, daughter of a Turkish shop-owner in Belgium, only moved to Paris four months ago. “We worried something like this could happen in Turkey, [but] we lost our daughter in one of the leading cities of the world,” her father Kemal Dogan lamented to Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper. She lived on the same street as the Bataclan concert, where dozens were killed.
Musician Kheireddine Sahbi, 29, grew up in Algiers. He moved to Paris to study at the Sorbonne. He was walking home in Paris’s 10th arrondissement when he was caught up in the ISIS attack. A violinist, he was known for his love of traditional Algerian music, sharing this at every opportunity with his new friends in Paris.
There were others: French-Malian Asta Diakite, Egyptian Salah Emad Al-Jabali, Djamila Houd — the daughter of Algerian immigrants and wife of the Jewish owner of La Belle Equippe.
In the end, those who were murdered in the ISIS attacks on the 10th and 11th arrondissements in Paris died as they lived — side by side with neighbours of different religious and ethnic backgrounds.
In the piles of flowers and candles left in tribute outside La Belle Equipe one fluttering message reads: “We are Muslims. You are terrorists and imposters.”