A demonstration against Islamist terrorism in Cologne disappointed expectations with a participation rate significantly lower than expected. The rally, organised by a liberal German Muslim group under the slogan “Not In Our Name”, was intended as a strong sign of Muslim unity against terror, after the most recent attacks in London and Manchester. Author Lamya Kaddor and peace activist Tarek Mohamad were hoping to march with some 10,000 German Muslims in the city centre of Cologne; the rally, however, turned out to be only around a 1,000 protesters strong.
The organisers expressed their deep disappointment, particularly with regards to Germany’s largest Muslim association “Ditib”, which harshly rejected the invitation, arguing that during the holy month of Ramadan, it would be unreasonable to expect Muslims to gather in the hot June sun at 25 degrees Celsius. Ditib, an organisation closely intertwined with the Turkish government, on the other hand, earned heavy criticism from the organisers and German politicians.
The majority of protesters turned out to be members of the more liberal Ahmaddiya community, which were accompanied by various German politicians from the federal state of North-Rhine Westphalia. Kaddor rejected criticism against the rally and insisted that the public rejection of Islamist terrorism should be a core interest of all Muslims and Muslim groups in Germany, not least in order to send a strong sign of opposition in the direction of Salafist activists and their sympathisers.
“I refuse to allow terrorist to abuse my religion for their causes”, insisted Sadiqu al-Mousslie of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany. Member of the smallest, but politically most active of the four major German Muslim associations, he announced a continued effort to rally Muslims against terrorism.