Muslims and Catholics Come Together Against Terrorism

Hundreds of followers of Islam attend masses in France and Italy to express their outrage at the assassination of the French priest by radicals

August 10th, 2016
Nicolás Pan-Montojo, CD News

Around one hundred Muslims attended Sunday Mass in the Cathedral of Rouen, where a heartfelt tribute was paid to father Jacques Hamel, beheaded by Islamist terrorists last Tuesday in the nearby Norman village of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray. An image that was replicated in masses held across France and Italy. Muslim citizens responded in this way after the French Council of the Muslim Faith called upon French Muslims to go to churches and share their "solidarity and compassion” following the recent attack and to present a common front against terrorism.

"We want to give this morning a particularly heartfelt welcome to our Muslim friends," said the archbishop of Rouen, Dominique Lebrun, at the beginning of the Mass celebrated "for peace, in memory of Father Hamel". This was perhaps the most symbolic ceremony of the hundreds of Masses held around the world, to mourn the loss of the French priest. "They have wanted to visit this morning; I thank you on behalf of all Christians. With this action you assert again that your community opposes any death or violence in the name of God," he added. "Faced with the terrible and unjust death of a priest, our religious communities gather. This proves that hope is underway," he said, in the packed Cathedral.

"We came to show the Catholic community that we are here with them, that we are all united and that we cannot let these barbarians divide us," said a young Muslim woman to local television reporters upon leaving the mass in the Cathedral of Rouen. "I'm glad to see that the Imams and the believers have responded to the call of the French Council of the Muslim Faith," said Mohamed Karabila, representing the mosque of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray. Following the attack Karabila expressed his shock regarding the “unforgivable” murder of his "friend" Father Jacques Hamel. "The blood shed could be the foundation that unites our two communities," he added.

In a world like ours, such symbolic gestures are of huge importance and help to avoid conflict, enabling dialogue between cultures and uniting them in their rejection of violence. For Irene, 25, interviewed by Le Monde this is “a very noble gesture on the part of Muslims" which "strengthens her faith." A law student, she came with her father, her husband and their one-year baby to attend the Mass. "It's in the hard times like this when humanity finds its way to go beyond," she concludes.


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