Muslims in France and Italy pray with Christian brothers in a gesture of solidarity after the killing of French priest, Father Jacques Hamel.
ROUEN, (France) — In a gesture of solidarity following the horrific killing of a French priest, Father Jacques Hamel, Muslims attended Catholic Mass in churches and cathedrals across France and Italy on Sunday.
“We are all Catholics of France,” said French Muslim council CFCM head Anouar Kbibech, according to the BBC.
There was a particularly strong turnout at the cathedral in Rouen, near the site of the attack.
“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.
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.”
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.