Riyadh, Feb 7
A group of French Muslims has
started a social media campaign to salvage the pride of the community,
facing a backlash following attacks in France last month by Islamist
terrorists, media reported.
The campaign on social media, called
"Je Suis Nous" ("I am we") seeks to highlight and celebrate positive
contributions by Muslims to French culture, the Saudi Gazette reported
Friday citing Arabic newspaper Al Arabiya.
A month after the
campaign’s launch, its Facebook page has become extremely popular, in
which both Muslims and non-Muslims post daily stories on topics ranging
from rap music, art and sports to academia.
The activists behind
the campaign have been drawn from different fields like law, human
rights, finance, communications and academia, and their aim is to
support a peaceful and cohesive society in France and above all to make
the Muslims in France confident and eradicate the negative narratives
around the community.
Speaking to Al Arabiya, the team behind “Je
Suis Nous” explained how the attacks last month, considered one of
“France’s worst terrorist attacks in a generation”, inspired the vision
of “Je Suis Nous”.
Laila Fathi, who is currently a doctorate
student in law at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in
London, described the urge to do something in the aftermath of the
attack on the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris
as “cathartic” amid growing fears of anti-Muslim backlash among the
French Muslim community. “I felt that our very existence (as Muslims in
France) would be put into question.”
According to “Je Suis Nous”
project manager and journalist, Suhail Najmi, the objectives of the
campaign are to “valorise actions of Muslims citizens... (by talking)
about our individual stories... and promoting French Muslims'
contributions to (French) community, culture, art...”
Facebook page and an accompanying monthly YouTube channel have kick
started the campaign, which also aims to develop a digital platform.
added that the objective of the initiative is about “...creating events
by which Muslims will feel more confident in their French identity...
bridging between the different actors of French civil society”.
Since the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, there’s been an unprecedented spike in anti-Muslim hatred attacks in France.
to The Daily Beast, “the National Observatory Against Islamophobia says
there were 128 anti-Muslim incidents reported in France between the
Charlie Hebdo killings and Jan 20, compared to 133 last year”.
Hathroubi, a French history teacher, and “Je Suis Nous” activist,
described that the current struggle to build a positive public
perception about French Muslims was hampered by negative narratives
emerging on a “daily basis” from some quarters of French media and
politicians, with anti-terror laws “singling out Muslims, (and) Islam as
a very worrying issue”.
Fellow team member and economics
professor, Rabah Ghezali, pointed out that “whilst Muslims in France may
be the largest Muslim population in an European country (approximately
six million), our community is composed of diasporas that have
experienced different patterns of migration, often the result of
decolonisation, than say, Muslims in the US. Furthermore, Muslim
institutions in France are not as representative as we would desire.”
“Je Suis Nous” campaign has already garnered over 2,000 likes since it
was launched and is growing rapidly. Fathi explained that the campaign
has “lots of support.”
Moreover, “it is an assertion of a French
identity that does not tick one box... it is a plurality all conjoined
by the belief in values of liberty, equality and fraternity. Values that
have lost their meaning in the past ten years,” Fathi said.