Monday, August 01, 2016

Muslims go to Masses in Europe to show solidarity

By Milos Krivokapic and Raphael Satter Associated Press August 01, 2016

ROUEN, France — In a gesture of solidarity after the gruesome killing of a French priest, hundreds of Muslims on Sunday attended Catholic Masses in churches and cathedrals across France and Italy.

More than 100 Muslims gathered at the towering Gothic cathedral in Rouen, near Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, where the 85-year-old Rev. Jacques Hamel had his throat slit by two teenage Muslim fanatics Tuesday.

‘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,’’ Dominique Lebrun, the archbishop of Rouen, said after the service.


Outside the church, a group of Muslims were applauded when they unfurled a banner: ‘‘Love for all. Hate for none.’’


At Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, Dalil Boubakeur, the rector of the Mosque of Paris, said repeatedly that Muslims want to live in peace.


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 the Duomo cathedral in Naples. 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.

Mohammed ben Mohammed, a member of the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy, said he called on the faithful in his sermon Friday ‘‘to report anyone who may be intent on damaging society. I am sure that there are those among the faithful who are ready to speak up.’’

Ahmed El Balazi, the imam of the Vobarno mosque in the Lombard province of Brescia, said he did not fear repercussions for speaking out.

‘‘I am not afraid. . . . These people are tainting our religion and it is terrible to know that many people consider all Muslim terrorists. That is not the case,’’ El Balazi said. ‘‘Religion is one thing. Another is the behavior of Muslims who don’t represent us.’’


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