"We are Muslims, not murderers"
The Muslim community of Catalunya expressed on Monday its repulsion towards the terrorist attacks last Thursday. Hours earlier, Catalan police confirmed the death of the author of the attack on the Rambla, which killed 15 people and left more than 100 injured.
To the cry of "We are Muslims, not murderers", "Not in my name" or "No to racism", hundreds of people from the Muslim community of Catalonia concentrated this afternoon in the center of Barcelona to show their rejection of terrorism and to make it clear that Islam has nothing to do with ISIS.
"We are here because we want peace, and so no one says that we are terrorists," explained two young people of Pakistani origin, residents of the Raval neighborhood, very close to the Ramblas, where last Thursday was the terrorist attack that left 14 dead and a hundred wounded. A young man holds his little brother by the arm, while the other points the banner that another Pakistani holds up, which can be read "Islam means peace."
An hour before the beginning of the demonstration, the Catalan police confirmed that it had shot down the driver of the van that last Thursday rolled the pedestrians on the Rambla and then fled. Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22, was one of the terrorists of Moroccan origin who were part of the terrorist cell forged in Ripoll, a small town at the foot of the Pyrenees with a Muslim population of less than 500 people, and with no apparent problems of social exclusion.
"These kids were like everyone else. Like my children, they were children of Ripoll. Like those that you can see playing in the square, or carrying a backpack full of books, the one who gives you his place in the supermarket queue, " writes a social educator of Ripoll, Raquel Rull in an open letter. She was the teacher of the five terrorists.
Five other terrorists from the Ripoll cell were shot dead by police early Friday before they set out to commit a second bombing in Cambrils, a tourist resort south of Barcelona.
"I can’t believe it was Younes. My fingers tremble; I have not seen anyone as responsible as you, Younes... " says Rull in her letter.
The Catalan police also confirmed on Monday the death of the Ripoll imam, considered the brain of the attacks. The imam died the day before the attacks during a random explosion in a semi-abandoned chalet in Alcanar, where the cell had stored the explosives. In the chalet was found the body of a seventh terrorist. Apart from that, four others have been arrested because of their relationship with the Barcelona and Cambrils attacks.
"Our prophet says that if you have killed a single person, it is as if you had killed all of humanity. This is a very meaningful message, isn’t it?" Says Somia, a 17-year-old Pakistani girl who covers her head with a bright purple veil.
Somia has attended the demonstration accompanied by a group of women representing the "Path of Peace," an organization that promotes Islam in a global way, "by teaching peace, patience, respect and tolerance," according to the information in the leaflet distributed by Somia and her friends. "The men have also come, they are on the other side," clarifies Somia in perfect Catalan. Somia arrived in Barcelona seven years ago and says that until today she hasn’t had problems of inclusion, although she fears things will get worse after the attack.
And that is why she came to manifest. "We are Muslims, not murderers," they say. According to estimates by the Guardia Urbana, Monday's demonstration gathered around 1,300 visitors from the Muslim community of Catalonia, as well as the tourists and curious who joined them spontaneously, or to take photos.
Once arrived at the Plaza de Catalunya, spokeswoman of the Ibn Battuta Foundation, Miriam Hatibi, has read in the Plaza de Catalunya a manifesto and has assured that "we have a real problem that we should not hide" when "a young man who was born or has arrived as a child to Catalonia rebels against his country ". In this sense, the Muslim community has asked the authorities to "speak clearly on how to face the future" and how we can include these young people so that they "feel that Catalonia is their land, so that they are able to reject any radical message or extremist".
The demonstration has ended at the beginning of the Rambla, where on Thursday the driver of the van began his deadly winding. In the stretch of 500 sections where the van was circulating, there is a carpet of flowers, candles and teddy bears in memory of the victims that makes you cry.