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World News

Pastor urges French to 'stand up for peaceful Islam' after Paris attack

Masked gunmen stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo and opened fire on workers inside, before fleeing the scene in a car.

The magazine has been criticised in the past for printing satirical cartoons depicted the Prophet Mohammed, something which sparked anger among some Islamic communities.

Speaking with Premier, Pastor Stephane Desmarais, leader of the French Protestant Church in London, stressed that Islam has nothing to do with yesterday's violence.

He added that people need to stand up for a quiet, peaceful Islam: "This kind of story is not good for relations, not between Christians and Muslims, but between the population and Muslims.

"It's not good because people are very quick to confuse the two and the fact is: This is not Islam.

"This is why we are sorry for Islam and we are standing for them to show that there is nothing really coming from Islam, in relation to this story".

So far one suspect - 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad - is believed to have handed himself into police.

Officers are still searching for two brothers who are also suspects: Cherif and Said Kouchi, who are thought to be armed and dangerous.

Last night crowds gathered in Washington, New York and London with signs reading 'Je Suis Charlie' (I Am Charlie) to show solidarity with the magazine.

Pastor Desmarais said Christians should pray for all those affected by the tragedy: "The main thing now is that we can be praying firstly for the families right now, because they start the year with this terrible event occurring in their lives.

"But I think, more generally, we can pray for Islam and for those relations between the French and Muslims, because they can be praying the price, a hard price.

"We need to pray for people to be understanding and to keep accepting Muslim people around them without any wrong facts."

Today has been declared a national day of mourning in France.

Meanwhile, here in Britain, Home Secretary Theresa May is chairing a meeting of the government's emergency committee, Cobra.

Discussions will be had over whether the UK's terror threat level ought to be raised in light of the Paris attacks.

Listen to the full interview with Pastor Desmarais and Premier's Aaron James:

Listen to Phillip Blond, Founder and Director of think tank Respublica speaking to Premier's Des Busteed on the News Hour about the need to build bridges with Islam.

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