Pegida rally and Paris attacks
Unlike the gathering of the anti-immigration right-wing movement PEGIDA in Dresden, Germany, the Italian rally was confined to city squares and saw leaders, women and immigrants take partFabrizio Bensch/Reuters

Responding to calls from Italian leaders to speak out against terrorism, hundreds of Muslims rallied on the streets of Italy's cities to condemn violence in the name of religion, stressing that "we are not the enemy".

"Terrorism cannot continue to strike anywhere in the name of Muslims," Abdellah Redouane, the Imam of the Grand Mosque in Rome, told the crowd on Saturday, 21 November. "We want everyone in the world to hear us from Rome: Not in my name."

The hundreds who gathered at the squares protested under heavy police presence, reported AFP. People displayed placards that read: "The Koran is against violence", "Islam is peace" and "Solidarity with Paris victims" at the Not in my name rally, which began with a minute's silence for the victims of Paris attacks.

For a country that has an estimated 1.7 million Muslims, the turnout was low, according to the Daily Beast. But those who turned up braving heavy rain were impassioned in their denouncement of terrorism.

"We are being held hostage to the terrorists, too. You know that 90 percent of the victims of ISIS are Muslim if you count all who have died in our homelands," said one protester.

Franco Gabrielli, the Italian cop in charge of protecting Rome from terror attacks had called upon Italian Muslims to stand up against the violence. The #notinmyname campaign was founded by the British charity Active Change Foundation in 2014 after footage of the beheadings of British citizens by IS militants was released. It is also a social movement that urges Muslims to stand up against violence in the name of Islam.

In recent months, Europe has seen a steep rise of anti-Islam sentiments resulting in rallies by groups like Pegida – Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West – that place the responsibility of recent terror attacks and ethnic conflicts on an immigration policy that welcomes Muslim refugees. Mainstream civil society in many parts of Europe is growing radical with citizens resisting the migration influx being forced by the political elite.