More than 100 Muslims were among the 2,000 people who attended a mass at the Gothic cathedral of Rouen to pay tribute to Father Jacques Hamel, who was murdered by jihadists in a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray on July 26.
“This morning we extend a special welcome to our Muslim friends,” Rouen Archbishop Dominique Lebrun said in his homily.
“I thank you in the name of all Christians. In this way you are affirming that you reject death and violence in the name of God.”
The most poignant moment of Sunday's mass in Rouen was the sign of peace, a regular part of the liturgy when the faithful turn to greet each other in the pews, either shaking hands or kissing.
Archbishop Lebrun used the moment to step into the congregation and greet Muslim leaders attending, as well as three nuns who were at the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray when Hamel had his throat slit.
Nice's top imam Otaman Aissaoui led a delegation to a Catholic mass in the southern city where a jihadist 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.
“It’s an occasion to show (Muslims) that we do not confuse Islam with Islamism, Muslim with jihadist,” said Reverend Jean Rouet.
Sunday's ceremonies followed a “brotherhood march” on Saturday in Lyon, which was supported by a regional Muslim council and a Catholic group.
Hundreds of people marched in silence, as mourners at the front of the crowd carried banners that read: “This is not a religious war” and “We are all brothers and sisters”.
- with AFP