The French church attacked by Daesh helped build a local mosque

Published July 28th, 2016 - 09:53 GMT
People gather on July 26, 2016, in front of the city hall in the Normandy city of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray after a priest was killed in the city's church in the latest of a string of attacks against Western targets claimed by or blamed on the Islamic State jihadist group. (AFP/Matthieu Alexandre)
People gather on July 26, 2016, in front of the city hall in the Normandy city of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray after a priest was killed in the city's church in the latest of a string of attacks against Western targets claimed by or blamed on the Islamic State jihadist group. (AFP/Matthieu Alexandre)

The church in the northern French town which was attacked on Tuesday by Daesh (ISIS) had donated a plot of land for building a mosque in 2000.

Not much else is known about the mosque, although some reports suggest that it had been frequented by notorious jihadist, Maxime Hauchard, who appeared in a video of the beheading of American Peter Kassig in 2014

 

Tuesday's attack saw an elderly priest brutally murdered by Daesh affiliates, who stormed the church in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray during morning mass. They held 5 hostages before slashing the throat of Father Jaques Hamel.

The attackers, who the Daesh group described as “soldiers” for the extremist organisation, were shot dead by police.

It was an act that further heightened anti-Islamic sentiment in France, with many taking to social media to condemn mosques as a hub for radicalization.

 

However, amid the hate-speech and anti-Islamic rhetoric being bandied about on social media, news of the church’s previous act of acceptance towards Islam has helped highlight the importance of tolerance and unity between different religions.

According for France 24, the imam of the mosque said he was “stunned” by the murder of the local priest, Jacques Hamel, who he described as a friend.

“I don’t understand, all of our prayers go to his family and the Catholic community,” said Mohammed Karabila, who heads the regional council of Muslim worship for Haute Normandie.

 

Karabila said he had met with Hamel on several occasions and had been part of an interfaith committee for the past 18 months.

“We talked about religion and how to live together. It has been 18 months that civilians have been attacked, now they are attacking religious symbols, using our religion as a pretext. It is no longer possible,” he said.

He said he was “stunned by the death of my friend. He was someone who gave his life to others. We are dumbfounded at the mosque.”

This latest attack comes as France remains on high alert after a truck ploughed into a crowd of people on Bastille day, killing 130. Daesh claimed responsiblity for the attack. 

AM


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