Muslims, Catholics pray together for slain French priest

Around 2,000 people gather in the Gothic cathedral of Rouen on Sunday to show solidarity after Father Jacques Hamel’s brutal murder by DAESH sympathisers.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

People stand as they attend a Mass in tribute to priest Jacques Hamel in the Rouen Cathedral on July 31, 2016

Muslims attended Catholic mass in churches in several parts of France on Sunday, praying in solidarity after French priest Jacques Hamel was murdered in a DAESH-claimed attack in the Normandy town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.

Over 100 Muslims gathered in the 11th-century cathedral of Rouen where 2,000 faithful filled the church to honour the 85-year old priest.

"I thank you in the name of all Christians," Rouen Archbishop Dominique Lebrun told them. "In this way you are affirming that you reject death and violence in the name of God."

A few policemen and soldiers guarded the church outside without conducting any searches.

In the southern city of Nice, where another DAESH terrorist rammed a truck into crowds on July 14, claiming 84 lives, local imam Otaman Aissaoui led a delegation of Muslims to a Catholic mass.

"Being united is a response to the act of horror and barbarism," Aissaoui said.

In Notre Dame church, Bordeaux’s top imam Tareq Oubrou led another service honouring the priest.

Muslims in Italy also prayed in solidarity at the Santa Maria Trastevere church in Rome.

Imam Sami Salem (L) and Imam Mohammed ben Mohammed (R) stand during a mass in the church Santa Maria in trastevere in Rome on July 31, 2016

At the same time, Pope Francis said Islam should not be equated with violence or terrorism.

"I don't think it is right to equate Islam with violence," he told journalists after returning from his trip to Poland attending a Catholic youth festival.

"If I have to talk about Islamic violence I have to talk about Christian violence. Every day in the newspapers I see violence in Italy, someone kills his girlfriend, another kills his mother-in-law, and these are baptised Catholics."

During his trip he said religion is not the force triggering violence.

"You can kill with the tongue as well as the knife," he said.

Pope Francis waves during a press conference on the plane after his visit to Krakow, Poland for the World Youth Days, on July 31, 2016

On July 26, knife-wielding attackers Adel Kermiche and Abdel Malik Petitjean murdered the Roman Catholic priest in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray church.

In the meantime, Petitjean’s 30-year-old cousin was arrested as he "was fully aware of his cousin's imminent violent action, even if he did not know the precise place or day," the prosecutor said in a statement.

Both of the 19-year-old attackers had been on the intelligence services' radar and had tried to go to Syria.

TRTWorld and agencies