Muslims rally in Seoul, “to let people know we are not terrorists”

Posted on : 2015-01-19 15:54 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Gathering was spurred by Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, and took place amid news of S. Korean teenager disappearing in Turkey
 Jan. 18. (by Kim Seong-gwang
Jan. 18. (by Kim Seong-gwang

A group of Muslims assembled in front of Seoul Central Mosque in Seoul’s Hannam neighborhood on the morning of Jan. 18. Dressed in turbans and sporting beards, the crowd of around 400 marched to celebrate the birthday of the prophet Muhammad, while carrying a sign reading “Islam is a religion of peace.”

The march was short, covering around two kilometers in an hour and 20 minutes. But the atmosphere was somewhat tense, with the event coming after a terrorist attack in Paris allegedly committed by the armed Sunni extremist group Islamic State (IS) and allegations of IS being involved in the disappearance of a South Korean teenager in Turkey.

“The message about Islam being a religion of peace was added before the march,” explained Ali, a 25-year-old from Pakistan. “There have been a lot of misunderstandings about Muslims since the attack in Paris. It’s upsetting.”

Wang Chang-won (his birth name is Charaza), a 43-year-old naturalized South Korean, said Islam “teaches believers to turn the other cheek when they’re being hit.”

“As people who commit terrorist attacks, the members of Islamic State cannot be seen as Muslims,” Wang said. “I came out in the street here to let people know we are not terrorists.”

Hayat, 32, expressed unhappiness with satirical depictions of Muhammad in the Western media.

“Who would like it if someone insulted their mother?” Hayat asked.

The signs raised during the march also include a message reading, “We will continue to wage war against slander,” an apparent reference to the terrorist attack on the magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

Abdulmasid, an 11-year-old elementary school student in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province, was visiting the mosque to learn about Islam on his winter break when he decided to take part in the march.

“I wish Muslims and Christians could all get along,” he said.

Abdulmasid also wished for the safe return of the missing South Korean teenager in Turkey, identified by the surname Kim.

Local residents expressed interest in seeing the march by Muslims in traditional attire.

“It’s the first time I’ve seen so many Muslims all in one place,” said Kim Min-su, a 25-year-old student. “I wish the different religions could all get along peacefully.”

The march was first held by Muslims in Seoul to celebrate Muhammad’s birthday. Around 100 intelligence and traffic police were sent to oversee the event.

“We sent the police out because of concerns about the policy of clashes with people of other religions who oppose Islam,” Yongsan Police Station explained.

 staff photographer) 
staff photographer)  


By Oh Seung-hoon, staff reporter


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