Thousands of people, many of them Muslims, have staged a rally in the western German city of Cologne to voice their opposition to terrorism and extremism in the name of Islam.
The protesters took to the streets in Cologne on Saturday as part of a “Peace March” to call on people worldwide to unite against terror.
The march attracted 3,500 people by some estimates despite the fact that Muslims observing the Ramadan fast could not be expected to rally for hours in summer temperatures.
Organized under the motto “Not with us,” the demonstrators chanted slogans and carried placards that read, “Together against terror” and “Terrorism has no religion.”
Participants in the Saturday demonstration said they intended to send a signal that they did not support extremism, following terrorist attacks in European countries, including the United Kingdom, France, and Belgium.
“The attacks by people who justify their acts by invoking Islam, without justification, are becoming more frequent,” protest organizers said ahead of the rally.
“Our faith is being abused, defiled, insulted and distorted into something unrecognizable by this. Let us put a powerful sign against violence and terror,” they added.
Several Islamic organizations, including Germany’s Central Council of Muslims also took part in the Cologne rally.
Muslims make up nearly five percent of the total population of Germany, which is home to some four million Muslims.
Germany has been on high alert since July 2016, when a spate of attacks killed 15 people, including four attackers, and left dozens injured.
Also, in December last year, a Tunisian man drove a truck into a crowd at a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people. Daesh claimed responsibility for the assault.