Hundreds of Muslims throughout France and Italy attended Catholic Masses in a demonstration of solidarity with Christians following the brutal murder of Father Jacques Hamel by radical extremists.
More than 100 Muslims gathered along with some 2000 parishioners at the cathedral in Rouen where 85-year-old Father Hamel had his throat slit. Arch Bishop of Rouen, Dominique Lebrun thanked the Muslims who attended Mass saying, "In this way you are affirming that you reject death and violence in the name of God." Outside the church, a group of Muslims held up a banner that read: "Love for all. Hate for none."
In the southern city of Nice, where a radical extremist slaughtered 84 people when he mowed them down with a truck on July 14, local imam Otaman Aissaoui led a delegation of Muslims to a Catholic mass. He said, "Being united is a response to the act of horror and barbarism."
In Italy, Muslim leaders also reached out to Christians as they attended Mass at the St. Maria Church in Rome. Mohammed ben Mohammed, a member of the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy said he called on Muslims in his Friday sermon 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, imam of the Vobarno mosque in the Lombard province of Brescia, also spoke out bravely against radical extremists: "These people are tainting our religion and it is terrible to know that many people consider all Muslims terrorists. That is not the case. Religion is one thing," he said. "Another is the behavior of Muslims who don't represent us."
Many Muslims are demonstrating that they will not allow radical extremist terrorists to hijack their faith. As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said, "The terrorists may scream from the roof tops that their crimes are God’s will; but you can’t frame God for what thugs do. . . .There isn’t a sword sharp enough to destroy truth."