A CARDIFF man has described the “unreal” reaction to a post he put on Facebook following the Paris terrorist attacks.
Leigh Matthews, 30, posted a message on Saturday morning after the shocking incidents that took place in Paris the night before.
His post, which urged people not to ‘lay the blame at the doors of the innocent just because of what they believe’, has since been liked more than 67,000 times and has been shared over 54,000 times on his page alone. Hundreds of thousands of others have also seen the post after it was copied by other Facebook users.
In the open letter he told readers that the staff of their local shop, the people who work in the bank and the drivers of their taxis were not responsible for what happened in Paris.
“The people behind last night’s attacks weren’t Muslims, they were extremists using vindication for their cowardice,” he said.
Mr Matthews, who works at PunkPanda restaurant and bar in Cardiff Bay, said that his head is “still spinning” after the amazing reaction to his post.
He said: “I wanted to make sure the wider Muslim community weren’t being victimised for the attacks in Paris.
“I wanted people to understand that just because they [the attackers] used the name of Islam when they were carrying out the attacks in Paris, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are speaking for the entire Muslim community.
“The reason the message is getting such a response is because people believe what I believe. It’s not that I said anything special, people were thinking it already.”
His Facebook page has since been flooded with messages of support, a few of which have really stood out to him. “I had a message from a young girl to say thank you, because she got up yesterday and was afraid to go outside,” he said.
“She’d been victimised in the past when the London bombings happened. She’d been punched in the street because of her faith and after what happened in Paris she was terrified.
“After seeing how many people had shared and liked my status, she felt more comfortable, she felt like she had a place in the world to go to where she wasn’t going to be victimised.”
The post has received an extraordinary amount of attention on Mr Matthews’s page alone and it has been copied by countless others too.
Despite this, he says that it doesn’t matter who posts it: “As long as the message is getting out there I don’t mind whose mouth it’s coming from.”
Since the post Mr Matthews has been asked to speak at a vigil in Newport, as well as making a guest appearance on Mohammed Shafiq’s show on UK-based Islamic TV station Ummah Channel.
Meanwhile Mr Matthews’s post continues to attract new messages of support but he emphasises that this post is not about him.
“After all, the good that comes out of this is what really matters,” he added.