The silent majority of Arab-Muslim citizens, in France and in Europe, are finding it difficult to organise and find their voice. Only if they unite will they be able to fight effectively the rise of fundamentalism and religious extremism, this ever-expanding scourge of the 21st century. Yet our communities remain hesitant and disorganised.

In front of the Islamist International’s terrifying efficiency in devising their strategies, we must lay down the basics for a counter-attack under the aegis of our communities’ best and freest minds. French and European citizens of Muslim culture carry in themselves the best antidote to the poisoning of our most vulnerable minds that we are witnessing with anguish every day.

Our communities are diverse and manifold. We should not allow ourselves to be solely defined by our religion. Rather, we should explicitly reaffirm our right, essential in a secular society, to change religion or to have none at all. Mavericks are far more numerous in our midst than is commonly thought. They will jump at the opportunity to organise into a proper secular movement, worthy of the republican values of our host country. The women and men who already work in this direction today are steadfast in resisting the flood trying to wash us all back to the Middle Ages, in the name of a sterile and retrograde Divinity.

Our times are difficult, but promising. A new movement, MIL, the Mouvement des Indépendants Laïques (Movement of Secular Independents) will try to bring together the many diverse partisans of such a secular union within our community, precisely at a time when it seems most at risk of losing its bearings and its identity. We aim to provide a common platform to as many organisations and associations as possible within our ranks, and to develop a broad agreement on the ways to counter the forcible political islamist hijack of our population, negating our most fruitful differences.

Believers and non-believers; with our roots in Africa, the Middle East, Asia or the West, we demand an absolute separation of Church and State; of the religious and the political. Whatever our origins, we are committed to the respectful values of the free integrated citizen, sole guarantees of freedom of conscience and free speech.

I call to all who would join our initiative, which has barely begun, to register on our website, www.m-i-l.org , to put at last the spotlight on our supposedly invisible minority and help it turn into a very clear majority in the near future.

Samia Labidi is a journalist and author. 

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