Rome/Cairo: Hundreds of Muslims living in Italy have demonstrated in Rome and Milan against the "abuse" of Islam by those who carried out the attacks in Paris and Mali, Eagle-Tribune online news reorted.
In Rome, hundreds gathered at the central Piazza Santi Apostoli chanting "no to terrorism" and holding banners reading "Not in My Name."
In Milan about 500 demonstrated in Piazza San Babila with banners reading "Stop Terrorism" and "Terrorism has No Religion."
From his side, Vice President of the Islamic Religious Community of Italy, Yahya Sergio Yahe Pallavicini, said in Rome that the demonstrators wanted to show a message of unity "of the healthy and predominant part of Islam in Italy" and distance themselves "clearly and vocally, from any abuse of our religion by criminals."
The number of Muslims in predominantly Roman Catholic Italy is estimated around 1.7 million.
The protests were held close on the heel of Egypt's Al-Azhar institution, the world's top body for Sunni Islamic learning, urging the West to distinguish between Islam and terrorism and stressing that both are poles apart.
"We call on the West not to react to terror attacks at their countries in a way that affects the Muslims in their communities," Al-Azhar's Grand Mufti Ahmed al-Tayyib was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
Tayyib's remarks came after some acts of violence and persecution against Muslims have been reported in some Western nations in reaction to the recent terrorist attacks in France that killed at least 129 people.
The Islamic State militant group had claimed responsibility for the attacks.
"Terrorism has neither religion nor identity," the Al-Azhar chief said, describing terrorists as "death gangs, evil contractors and blood brokers".