One Quebec Muslim teenager’s message has gone viral after he posted a photo of himself holding a sign that reads “pas en mon nom” — “not in my name” — in response to this week’s killing of two soldiers in separate attacks in Ottawa and St-Jean-sur-Richelieu.
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Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, 53, was killed in a targeted hit and run on Monday. Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24, was gunned down while standing watch at Parliament Hill's National War Memorial. Both attacks were carried out by Canadian citizens reported to be recent converts to Islam.
The week's events prompted Ali Chebli, 17, a Muslim of Lebanese descent, to take to social media.
"I'm a Muslim and I'm against ISIS. My mission is to fight against hate speech and the actions of jihadists," the business student at Collège Maisonneuve wrote underneath the photo.
The message has been seen almost 800,000 times since it was posted on Wednesday. Now Chebli is hoping to hit one million views.
Popularity 'a surprise'
The business student at Collège Maisonneuve did not think his Facebook page would ever go viral.
“I’m happy people liked it,” he told CBC's French-language network, Radio-Canada. “But what’s more important is that people agree with the message.”
Chebli says his message was in response to hateful remarks on the internet. He insists people shouldn’t make a connection between terrorism and Islam.
“I’m just a regular person. Like I said on my page, I wake up every morning, I go to school, I come home, I have dinner, I do my homework. I’m not on the street saying, ‘I am a Muslim, I read the Quran.'”
Since sharing his message, Chebli has received a lot of support from other Muslims in Montreal.
“His approach is very brave,” said Soumayya, a fellow student at Collège Maisonneuve. “I think it’s great that so many voices come together in a single project.”
Following the social media success, Chebli is now considering other campaigns to change attitudes around Islam.
“Everyone should create small movements, because it’s small things that create great results.”