For Immediate Release
U.S. Muslims Condemn Paris Terror Attack, Defend Free Speech
WASHINGTON - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today condemned a shooting attack on the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and repeated its defense of freedom of speech.
Twelve people were killed today in the attack by individuals reportedly shouting "God is great" in Arabic. While no one has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack, the magazine has been threatened and attacked in the past because of its derogatory references to Islam and its Prophet Muhammad. The perpetrators remain at large.
In a statement, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said:
"We strongly condemn this brutal and cowardly attack and reiterate our repudiation of any such assault on freedom of speech, even speech that mocks faiths and religious figures. The proper response to such attacks on the freedoms we hold dear is not to vilify any faith, but instead to marginalize extremists of all backgrounds who seek to stifle freedom and to create or widen societal divisions.
"We offer sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed or injured in this attack. We also call for the swift apprehension of the perpetrators, who should be punished to the full extent of the law."
France's Muslim leaders have similarly condemned the attack as "barbaric." "This extremely grave barbaric action is also an attack against democracy and the freedom of the press," said the French Muslim Council (CFCM) in a statement.
In 2006, CAIR rejected the sometimes violent response to Danish cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad.
CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper wrote at that time:
"Islamic traditions include a number of instances of the prophet having the opportunity to strike back at those who attacked him, but refraining from doing so."
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.