PARIS (RNS) Samuel Sartori waited in the rain with hundreds of fellow Muslims, as police searched bags and patted down bodies ahead of Friday (Nov. 20) prayers at the city’s Grand Mosque.
“I’m a regular here,” said 26-year-old Sartori, sporting a white knitted skullcap, as he ducked under the shelter of an umbrella. “But I see a lot of new faces today. Lots of people are worried about the attacks.”
Tens of thousands of the faithful responded to calls by Muslim leaders across France to attend Friday prayers in honor of the 130 people who died during last week’s terrorist attacks around Paris.
Leaders of the Grand Mosque had planned an anti-terror protest after the prayers, but were forced to call it off due to a ban against all demonstrations following last week’s bloodbath.
But the dismal weather and tight security didn’t stop Muslims and non-Muslims from turning out in force, joining a long line that snaked down the street. Many said they knew people who were killed or injured in the attacks.
“We’re really upset about everything that’s happened,” said 59-year-old French Algerian Nacera Amellal. “This is a time we need to stick together. I only hope we Muslims aren’t sidelined.”
Rights groups report an increase in anti-Muslim acts in recent days — similar to the spike following January’s attacks on the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, and a Jewish grocery store.
Mike Ghouse of the American Muslim Institution speaks at a small demonstration against ISIS on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 20, 2015. Religion News Service video by Adelle M. Banks
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