Muslims across France and Italy attended catholic Mass on Sunday mass in a gesture of solidarity after the murder of French priest, Father Jacques Hamel.
ROUEN, (France) — Many Muslims attended Catholic Mass in churches and cathedrals across France and Italy on Sunday to show compassion for slain priest, Father Jacques Hamel, and solidarity with their Catholic compatriots.
“We are very moved by the presence of our Muslim friends and I believe it is a courageous act that they did by coming to us,” said Dominique Lebrun, the archbishop of Rouen, after the service.
More than 100 Muslims were among the 2,000 who gathered at the Rouen Cathedral near the Normandy town where two teenagers slit the throat of 85-year-old Father Jacques Hamel.
“I thank you in the name of all Christians,” Rouen Archbishop Dominique Lebrun told them. “In this way you are affirming that you reject death and violence in the name of God.”
Outside the church, a group of Muslims were applauded when they unfurled a banner: “Love for all. Hate for none.”
Churchgoer Jacqueline Prevot said that the attendance of Muslims was “a magnificent gesture.”
“Look at this whole Muslim community that attended Mass,” she said. “I find this very heartwarming; I am confident. I say to myself that this assassination won’t be lost, that it will maybe relaunch us better than politics can do; maybe we will react in a better way.”
France’s Muslim Council urged those who follow Islam to attend Mass this Sunday.
“It is a symbol. We want the spilled blood of Jacques Hamel to act as cement for more fraternity, more equality and greater ties between the communities,” said Mohammed Karabila, the President of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray mosque.
French television broadcast scenes of interfaith solidarity from all around France, with Muslim women in headscarves and Jewish men in kippot crowding the front rows of Catholic cathedrals in Lille, Calais or the Basilica of Saint Denis, the traditional resting place of French royalty.
Nice’s top imam Otaman Aissaoui led a delegation to a Catholic mass in the southern city where Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel carried out a rampage in a truck on Bastille Day, claiming 84 lives and injuring 435, including many Muslims.
“Being united is a response to the act of horror and barbarism,” he said.
The Notre Dame church in southwestern Bordeaux also welcomed a Muslim delegation, led by the city’s top imam Tareq Oubrou.
There were similar scenes in Italy, where the head of Italy’s Union of Islamic communities — Izzedin Elzir — called on his colleagues to “take this historic moment to transform tragedy into a moment of dialogue.” The secretary general of the country’s Islamic Confederation, Abdullah Cozzolino spoke at the Treasure of St. Gennaro chapel; three imams also attended Mass at the St. Maria Church in Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood, donning their traditional dress as they entered the sanctuary and sat down in the front row.
Imams and practicing Muslims attended Mass across Italy, from Palermo in the south to Milan in the north, in a sign of solidarity after the France church attack in which an elderly priest was slain.
“Mosques are not a place in which fanatics become radicalised,” said Mohammed ben Mohammed, a member of the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy. “Mosques do the opposite of terrorism: they diffuse peace and dialogue.”
Mohammed ben Mohammed, a member of the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy, said that he called on faithful in his sermon Friday “to report anyone who may be intent to damage society. I am sure that there are those among the faithful who are ready to speak up.”