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Finland’s Muslim communities shocked by Paris attacks

Leaders of Finland’s Muslim groups have been shaken by the terrorist attacks in Paris. Committing acts of terrorism in the name of religion is totally unacceptable, says the Chair of the Finnish Islamic Society Anas Hajjar. Abbas Bahmanpour, Imam of the Eastern Helsinki Resalat community, says the sad events should not be allowed to polarise society, as that is their perpetrators' intent.

Anas Hajjar
Anas Hajjar Image: Anne Hämäläinen / Yle

Muslim communities approached by the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle have swiftly and unequivocally condemned the terrorist attacks in Paris Friday night that took at least 127 lives.

The extremist militant group Islamic State came forward on Saturday to claim responsibility for the killings.

Finland’s largest Muslim organisation, the Finnish Islamic Society, serves as a discussion forum and cooperation channel for different Muslim associations in Finland. The Society severely condemned the acts on Saturday, extending their deepest condolences to the families of the victims.

Finland’s Muslims do not tolerate any form of terrorism, especially the kind done in the name of Islam, the Society said. The Society’s Chair, Imam Anas Hajjar, is stunned by the incident.

“I’m in shock. I can only condemn these massacres, perpetrated intentionally to harm innocent people,” he said.

“We cannot accept that crimes such as this are done in the name of religion. We must fight as a united front against terror in the Middle East.”

Hajjar says the Paris terrorist attacks have upset the communal sense of safety and security. He warns against stigmatizing the entire Muslim community because of the Paris offenses.

“Odious and reprehensible”

Abbas Bahmanpour is the Imam of the Resalat Muslim community in Eastern Helsinki, one of Finland’s largest Muslim communities. 

“This is very sad. I hope the people of France will be able to overcome and continue with their lives. It is important that we stand united against this kind of terrorism, so we don’t allow these events to influence our peaceful society,” said Bahmanpour.

“We cannot allow such factors to polarise our community, as that is exactly what their perpetrators aim to do,” he continued.

Finland’s ‘Uskoot’ association provides a forum for promoting cooperation between the Muslims, Christians and Jewish people of Finland. It said in a statement that the “indiscriminate killing and terrorism are not an acceptable means to further any purpose.”

“Using religion to justify violence is particularly odious and reprehensible,” the statement read.

The association said it shared in the shock over the bloodshed in France, and said it is worried about the state of democracy and civil peace.

“The best security against hate crimes is safe and secure dialogue, co-existence and cooperation between religions, cultural backgrounds and beliefs. We must struggle together against extremism and insecurity,” it said.

Young Muslims agree

Muttaqi Khan of the Young Muslims organisation in Finland agrees.

“This is the act of a few individuals or an isolated group. It does not represent Muslims as a whole. Someone who shoots other people is not normal. We simply have to make every effort to make sure that things like this don’t happen,” the Young Muslims president said.

Both the Islamic Society of Finland and the Resalat Muslim community have arranged meetings today to discuss the Paris tragedy.

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