A Muslim man stood blindfolded in the centre of Paris asking mourners to embrace him as they gathered to commemorate the 129 victims killed in a series of terror attacks across the capital.
Footage posted online shows the man standing next to a homemade sign reading: “I’m Muslim, but I’m told that I’m a terrorist. I trust you, do you trust me? If yes, hug me.”
The video shows dozens of onlookers approaching the man and embracing him at the Place de la République, which has become a hub for homages and tributes.
One woman is moved to tears by the man's gesture and joins another onlooker to hug him.
After taking off his blindfold the man, who remains unnamed, said: “I would like to thank every one of you for giving me a hug. I did this to send a message to everyone.
“I am Muslim, but that doesn’t make me a terrorist. I never killed anybody. I can even tell you that last Friday was my birthday, but I didn’t go out.
“I deeply feel for all the victims’ families. I want to tell you that ‘Muslim’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘terrorist’.
“A terrorist is a terrorist, someone willing to kill another human being over nothing. A Muslim would never do that. Our religion forbids it.”
The video has been watched more than 10 million times on Facebook and received 150,000 likes in two days.
Attacks by jihadist militants and a rise in refugees seeking help in Europe has led to renewed focus on Europe’s Muslim population.
Since the Paris attacks, committed by Isis militants and suicide bombers, the Slovakian Prime Minister claimed his country is “monitoring every Muslim,” while Poland has demanded security guarantees before accepting refugees.
However, a survey of seven European countries last spring by the Pew Research Centre, found France has the most positive views on followers of Islam, with 74 per cent of people surveyed holding a favourable view of the Muslim community.
In Britain, an advert organised by the Muslim Council of Britain on behalf of more than 300 mosques and community groups said the "barbaric acts of [Isis] have no sanction in the religion of Islam, which forbids terrorism and the targeting of innocents."
The advert called on everyone to stand together to ensure communities were not turned against each another.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies