Muslims across France have attended Catholic Mass in a gesture of solidarity after the murder of a priest on Tuesday.
Fr Jacques Hamel was killed in his church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray near Rouen by two men who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.
France’s Muslim council, the CFCM, urged Muslims to show “solidarity and compassion” over the murder.
“We are all Catholics of France,” said Anouar Kbibech, the head of the CFCM.
Services were held in Rouen as well as in Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral.
“We’re very touched,” the Archbishop of Rouen, Dominique Lebrun, told BFMTV.
“It’s an important gesture of fraternity. They’ve told us, and I think they’re sincere, that it’s not Islam which killed Jacques Hamel.”
“For me, it is very important to be here today,” Mohammed Karabila, President of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray Mosque, said in Rouen.
“It should be shown physically, because until now the Muslim community did a lot of things that were not seen.
“Today we wanted to show physically, by kissing the family of Jacques Hamel, by kissing His Grace Lebrun in front of everybody, so they know that the two communities are united.”
Some 50 Muslims had already joined 350 Catholics at a vigil in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray’s second church on Saturday night.
A service was also held at the Saint-Pierre-de-l’Ariane church in a mainly immigrant area of Nice. Earlier in July, 84 people died in an IS-inspired attack in Nice, when a lorry was driven into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day.
Muslims in Italy also attended Mass on Sunday. Three imams sat in the front row at Santa Maria Trastevere church in Rome.
“Mosques are not a place in which fanatics become radicalised,” said Mohammed ben Mohammed, a member of the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy. “Mosques do the opposite of terrorism: they diffuse peace and dialogue.”
During Tuesday’s attack Adel Kermiche and Abdel Malik Petitjean cut the throat of Fr Hamel, 86, and held other churchgoers hostage. They were later shot dead by police outside the church.
SOURCE: BBC NEWS