Muslims from all over France and Italy attended Catholic Mass this Sunday in wake of the horrific killing of an elderly priest in Normandy.
The Rev. Jacques Hamel was killed in his church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray near Rouen by two 19-year-olds who claimed allegiance to the terrorist group, ISIS. They were later shot by the police.
French television broadcasted the scene of interfaith solidarity featuring Muslim women in headscarves crowding the front rows of cathedrals in Lille, Calais or the Basilica of St. Denis.
Some of the Muslims sat in the front row and joined their fellow churchgoers in shaking hands, embracing the parishioners and receiving the Holy Communion.
“It’s the same god. It’s the house of god,” said a Muslim attendee at a church.
Interviewed outside the cathedral in Rouen, attendee Jacqueline Prevot called it “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.”
"We're very touched," Archbishop of Rouen Dominique Lebrun said. “It's an important gesture of fraternity. They've told us, and I think they're sincere, that it's not Islam which killed Jacques Hamel.”
Muslims in Italy also attended the catholic Mass.
“Mosques are not a place in which fanatics become radicalized,” said Mohammed ben Mohammed, a member of the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy, who was in attendance. “Mosques do the opposite of terrorism: They diffuse peace and dialogue.”
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters