Over 100 prominent Indian personalities on Saturday condemned the recent attacks in France and the subsequent statements issued by Muslim religious and political leaders.

“We the undersigned unequivocally and unconditionally condemn the recent killings in France by two fanatics in the name of faith,” read a joint statement. “We are deeply disturbed by the convoluted logic of some self-appointed guardians of Indian Muslims in rationalising cold-blooded murder and deplore the outrageous remarks of some heads of state.”

The signatories include actor Naseeruddin Shah, activist Teesta Setalvad, former Indian Police Service officer Julio Ribeiro, filmmaker Anand Patwardhan, screenwriter Anjum Rajabali, lyricist Hussain Haidri, director Kabir Khan and political activist and Swaraj India chief Yoginder Yadav.

The statement said it has become the order of the day for religious groups to “indulge in whataboutery” whenever crimes are committed by those belonging to their religious groups. It condemned the act of rationalising crimes by comparing them with other similar crimes, calling it an irrational and absurd argument.

“No god, gods, goddesses, prophets or saints may be invoked to justify the killing and/or terrorising of fellow human beings” it said.

The statement further said that the signatories stand in solidarity with the French Council for the Muslim Faith, which condemned the attacks in France’s Paris and Nice and issued an appeal to Muslims to cancel the celebration of the birth of Prophet Muhammad, called Eid Milad un Nabi, as a mark of mourning with the victims and their families and friends.

The attacks

In October, two attacks shook France, prompting authorities to raise the security threat level in the country to “emergency”, the maximum one. On Thursday, a knife-wielding attacker killed three people at a church in France’s Nice city.

The assailant was wounded and hospitalised following the attack at the Notre Dame Church. It took place less than a kilometer away from a site in 2016 where another attacker drove a 25-tonne truck into a crowd, killing at least 84 people.

Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi called the attack an “act of terrorism”. Estrosi said the attacker shouted “Allahu Akbar”, meaning God is the greatest, repeatedly. “The meaning of his gesture left no doubt,” he said.

“The methods match, without doubt, those used against the brave teacher in Conflans Sainte Honorine, Samuel Paty,” he said, referring to the killing of a French teacher less than two weeks ago.

On October 16, Paty was beheaded after he showed a caricature of Prophet Muhammad to his students in the class.

French anti-terror prosecutors said the assault took place on the outskirts of Paris near a school in the western suburb of Conflans Saint-Honorine. They said they were treating the incident as “a murder linked to a terrorist organisation” and related to a “criminal association with terrorists”.

The assailant, Abdullakh Anzorov, was gunned down about 600 meters from where the teacher was killed after he did not follow police orders to put down his knife and behaved in a threatening manner, the police said.

The teacher had received threats over “a debate” about the caricatures around 10 days ago, the police said. A parent of one of his pupils had filed a complaint against the teacher, another police official said. French President Emmanuel Macron called the incident an “Islamist attack”, urging citizens to stand up against extremism. The school said Paty had given Muslim children the option of leaving the classroom before he showed the cartoons.

Anger over cartoons

Members of the Muslim community across the world have launched campaigns against French products. Demonstrations were held in Syria, Libya, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, among other countries. Many Muslims, in France and abroad, interpret the cartoons as a deeply offensive provocation and see any depiction of the Prophet as blasphemous.

On Thursday, posters deploring French President Emmanuel Macron were pasted all over a street on Muhammad Ali Road in south Mumbai and a street in Vadodra. On the same day, Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Muslims have the right “to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past”. His comment was part of a blog, which was also posted on Twitter. It was later removed from the microblogging site for violating rules. A day later, he said that his remarks were “taken out of context”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday denounced the terror attacks in France, while extending India’s support to the country in the fight against terrorism. On Wednesday, India had criticised the “personal attacks in unacceptable language” by countries like Turkey and Pakistan on the French president.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had criticised Macron earlier this week, saying his defense of the caricatures suggested he “needs treatment on a mental level”. “What’s the problem of the individual called Macron with Islam and with the Muslims,” he asked.

On October 25, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan had accused Macron of encouraging anti-Muslim sentiment and creating polarisation in the society. Amid the political barbs, neither Erdogan nor Khan has publicly condemned the killing of the French teacher.

The signatories

1. Abdul Aziz Lokhandwala, Industrialist, Mumbai

2. Abhilasha Kumari, Researcher

3. Ahmad Rashid Sherwani, Hyderabad

4. AJ Jawad, Advocate, mediator, Chennai

5. Akbar Shaikh, Social activist, Sholapur

6. Amar Jesani, Medico Friends Circle, Mumbai

7. Amir Rizvi, Designer, Mumbai

8. Anand Patwardhan, Documentary film maker, Mumbai

9. Anil Dharker, Editor, columnist, writer, Mumbai

10. Anil Hebbar, Social Entrepreneur, Mumbai

11. Anil K Singh, Insaaf, Delhi

12. Anjum Rajabali, Screenwriter, Social Activist, Mumbai

13. Anurag Chaturvedi, journalist, Delhi

14. Anvar Rajan, Social activist, Pune

15. Anwar Hussain, Corporate executive, Mumbai

16. Arshad Alam, Columnist, educationist, Delhi

17. Askari Zaidi, Corporate Communications, Delhi

18. Bilal Khan, Social Activist, Mumbai

19. Bharti Sharma, Mumbai

20. Cedric Prakash, Priest, Ahmedabad

21. Prof Chaman Lal, Rtd Prof JNU, Delhi

22. Charul Joshi, Political activist, Mumbai

23. Chayanika Shah, Queer Feminist Researcher, Mumbai

24. Chhaya Datar, retd professor, feminist activist, Mumbai

25. Danish Javed, Lyricist, writer, producer, Mumbai

26. Dilip D’Souza, Writer, Mumbai

27. Dilip Simeon, Historian, Delhi

28. Dolphy D’Souza, Police Reforms Watch, Mumbai

29. Fahad Ahmad, PhD Scholar, TISS, Mumbai

30. Naseeruddin Shah , Writer-director, Mumbai

31. Feroze Mithiborwala, President, Bharat Bachao Andolan, Mumbai

32. Gauhar Raza, Anhad, Delhi

33. Ghulam Mohiuddin, Physician, PIO, New York

34. Guddi, S.L., Yusuf Meherali Centre, Mumbai

35. Hasan Ibrahim Pasha, Writer, Allahabad

36. Hasan Kamaal, Editor, columnist, poet, Mumbai

37. Hasina Khan, Bebaak Collective, Mumbai

38. Henri Tiphagne, Advocate and human rights defender, Chennai

39. Hussain Haidri, Lyricist, Mumbai

40. Hussain Indorewala, Academic, Mumbai

41. Jamsheed Rizwani, Sete, France

42. Jatin Desai, Journalist, social activist, Mumbai

43. Javed Akhtar, Poet, films, former MP, Mumbai

44. Javed Anand, Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD), Mumbai

45. John Dayal, Writer, activist, Delhi

46. Joycia Thorat, Ecumenical Activist

47. J.S. Bandukwala, Social Activist, Vadodara

48. Julio F Ribeiro, IPS (retired), Mumbai

49. Jyoti Punwani, Journalist, Mumbai

50. Kabir Khan, Director, Mumbai

51. Kamayani Bali Mahabal

52. Dr K L Sharma, University of Rajasthan

53. Kasim Sait, Businessman, Chennai

54. Kavita Srivastava, Civil liberties & human rights activist, Jaipur

55. Kirtika Singh, Advocate, Allahabad High Court

56. Kishore Jagtap, Dalit activist, Mumbai

57. Krishnakant Chauhan, Environmentalist and Activist

58. Krishnaswamy Kumar, Rtd Prof, Coimbatore

59. Lara Jesani, Advocate, Bombay High Court, Mumbai

60. Mallika Sarabhai, Theatre personality, Ahmedadad

61. Masooma Ranalvi, Co-Founder, India Lead|WeSpeakOut, Delhi

62. Medha Patkar, National Alliance of People’s Movements

63. Mihir Desai, Senior advocate, Bombay High Court

64. Mohammed Arif, Social activist, Varanasi

65. Mohammed Imran, Delhi/New York

66. Dr Mridula Mukherjee, Rtd Prof JNU, Delhi

67. Mukta Srivastav, Social Activist, Thane

68. Muniza Khan, Social activist, Varanasi

69. Mushfiq Khan, Film maker, Mumbai

70. Nandan Maluste, Finance, Mumbai

71. Nandita Bhawnani, Writer, Mumbai

72. Nandita Shah, Feminist activist, Mumbai

73. Naseeruddin Shah, Actor, Mumbai

74. Nasreen Fazalbhoy, Professor (retired), Mumbai

75. Niraja Jayal, JNU, Delhi

76. Noorhehan Safia Niyaz, Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, Mumbai

77. Pramod Mujumdar, Social Activist, Mumbai

78. Prashant Bhushan, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court, Delhi

79. Qaisar Sultana, Home-maker, Allahabad

80. Dr Ram Puniyani, Author, social activist, Mumbai

81. Dr Ramesh Dixit, Rtd Prof Lucknow University, Lucknow

82. Rohit Prajapati, Environmentalist and human rights defender, Vadodara

83. Sachidanand Sinha, JNU, Delhi

84. Salim Sabuwala, Social activist, Mumbai

85. Sandeep Pandey, Academic, social activist, Lucknow

86. Sandhya Gokhale, Feminist activist, Mumbai

87. Prof. Sanjay MG, National Convenor, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Thane

88. Dr Satya Mohanty, former Secretary, Govt of India

89. Shabana Azmi, Actor, former MP, Mumbai

90. Prof. Shafaat Khan, Marathi Playwright

91. Shameela Zaidi, HR Manager, Mumbai

92. Shikha Sen, Documentary editor

93. Dr Saif Mahmood, Advocate, Supreme Court, Delhi

94. Sajal Mittra, Rtd IAS

95. Selvyn Jussy, University of Calcutta, Kolkata

96. Shama Zaidi, Writer, documentary film maker, Mumbai

97. Shabnam Hashmi, Anhad, Delhi

98. Dr Shahnawaz, Physician, Sultanpur

99. Sitaram Prasad Singh, Theatre artist

100. S N Sahu, former OSD to President of India

101. Simantini Dhuru, Educationist, Mumbai

102. Sohail Hashmi, Writer, film maker, Delhi

103. Subhash Gatade, New Socialist Initiative, Delhi

104. Sucheta Mahajan, Professor JNU, Delhi

105. Sujata Gotaskar, Feminist activist and researcher, Mumbai

106. Sukla Sen, Peace Activist, Mumbai

107. Sumedh Jadhav, President, Republican Panther, Mumbai

108. Suresh Sawant, President, Samvidhan Sanvardhan Samiti

109. Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam, Delhi

110. Dr Sunilam, Leader farmers & workers movement, Indore

111. Dr Suresh Khairnar, Social Activist, Nagpur

112. Swara Bhaskar, Actor, Mumbai

113. Swatija M. Paranjape, Feminist activist, Mumbai

114. Prof. Tahir Mahmood, Legal luminary, Delhi

115. Dr Tarannum Siddiqui, Jamia Millia Islamia, Dehi

116. Teesta Setalvad, Citizens for Justice and Peace, Mumbai

117. T.K. Arun, Consulting editor, The Economic Times

118. Tushar Gandhi, Writer, activist, Mumbai

119. Ujjwala Mhatre, Mumbai

120. Prof Vasanthi Raman, Delhi

121. Veena Gowda, Advocate, Mumbai

122. Vibhuti Narain Rai, IPS (retired), Noida

123. Vimla Chand, Consumer advocate

124. Vijay Krishna Acharya, Director, Mumbai

125. Vishwas Utagi, Economist & Trade Union Leader, Mumbai

126. Yoginder Yadav, Political Activist, Academic, Delhi

127. Dr. Zaheer Ahmed Sayeed, Neuro-surgeon, Chennai

128. Zaman Habib, TV writer-producer, Mumbai

129. Zeenat Lakhani, Screenwriter, Mumbai

130. Zeeshan Ayub, Actor, Mumbai