The death of Father Jacques Hamel by terrorists who cut the throat of the elderly 85 year old priest during mass has led to a visible changes in the Muslim community in France.
Not content with merely condemning them, led by their leaders, Muslims have been attending masses this week. It has led not just to dialogue but to acts of solidarity, of making visible the words of peace and the commendation of the terrorists with action.
Here are some of the reports:
Muslims have attended Catholic mass in churches around France in solidarity and sorrow following the brutal murder of a priest in an ISIL-linked attack. More than 100 Muslims were among the 2,000 who gathered at the cathedral of Rouen near the Normandy town where two teenagers slit the throat of 85-year-old Father Jacques Hamel.
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.
The Muslims were responding to a call by the French Muslim council CFCM to show their "solidarity and compassion" over the priest's murder on Tuesday.
"I'm a practising Muslim and I came to share my sorrow and tell you that we are brothers and sisters," said a woman wearing a beige headscarf who sat in a back pew at a church in central Paris: Giving her name only as Sadia, she added softly: "What happened is beyond comprehension."
Also on Sunday, dozens of prominent Muslims published a joint letter warning that "the risk of fracturing among the French is growing every day."
And NCB News reported this:
At Paris' iconic Notre Dame cathedral, Dalil Boubakeur, the rector of the Mosque of Paris, said repeatedly that Muslims want to live in peace. "The situation is serious," Boubakeur told BFMTV. "Time has come to come together so as not to be divided."
In Italy, the secretary general of the country's Islamic Confederation, Abdullah Cozzolino, spoke from the altar in the Treasure of St. Gennaro chapel next to Naples' Duomo cathedral. 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.
RT News reported that:
The move to attend the Catholic services was made by the French Council for the Muslim Faith (CFCM), which dubbed the attack as a “cowardly assassination.”
The Muslims should “show our Christian brothers the solidarity and compassion of France's Muslims in the wake of this new tragedy that has struck our country through an attack on a place of worship,” the group said.
Fox News reported on Pope Francis reaction to the killing:
When asked why he didn't describe the priest's murder and other attacks as Islamic terrorism, Francis replied he won't do that because "it's not right to identify Islam with violence. It's not right and it's not true."
"I believe that in every religion there is always a little fundamentalist group."
"I don't like to talk of Islamic violence because every day, when I go through the newspapers, I see violence, this man who girls his girlfriend, another who kills his mother-in-law," Francis said, in apparent reference to crime news in predominantly Catholic Italy. "And these are baptized Catholics. If I speak of Islamic violence, then I have to speak of Catholic violence."
"In Islam, not all are violent, not all the Catholics are violent. It's like a fruit salad, everything's in there.
Noting he has spoken with imams, he concluded: "I know how they think, they are looking for peace."
As for ISIS, he said, the Islamic State group "presents itself with a violent identity card, but that's not Islam."