Interfaith Leaders Unite Following Murder of Catholic Priest

On the 26th July, Father Jacques Hamel, an 84 year old Catholic priest from St-Etiennes de Rouvray in Normandy, France was brutally murdered in his church following a hostage situation by affiliates of daesh. The attack took place during mass as two daesh ‘soldiers’ took worshipers and two nuns hostage. One of the nuns involved in the incident is currently in critical condition in hopsital.

This horrific attack on a place of worship that has seen the murder of a clergyman has garnered an outpouring of grief from interfaith leaders of all Abrahamic religions who have united to mourn the loss of the Father Jacques and reiterate the need to come together at times like this and be defiant in standing up to hate and violence.

In a statement issued by the Archbishop of Rouen, Dominque Lebrun, he writes:

From Krakow, I have learned about the killings this morning in the Church of Saint-Etienne du Rouvray. There were three victims: the priest (84 yrs old) Fr Jacques Hamel and the two authors of the assassination. Three other people were injured – one of them very seriously. I call out to God, with all people of good will. I dare to invite non-believers to unite in this call! With the youth of the World Youth Days, we pray in the same manner as we prayed around the tomb of Father Popiełuszko in Warsaw – assassinated under the communist regime.

The Vicar General, Fr Philippe Maheut arrived at the scene very soon after this incident. This evening I will be in my diocese around the families and the parish community who are all very shocked. The only weapons which the Catholic Church can take up are prayer and fraternity among peoples. I return home leaving hundreds of young people who are the future of humanity, the truth. I ask them not to give up in the face of violence but to become apostles of the civilization of love.

Here in the UK, faith leaders have expressed their grief and outrage at the murder.

Imam Adam Kelwick, a Muslim chaplain in Mersyside who has built strong interfaith link in his community with members of the Jewish and Christian faith wrote:

As a Muslim, my experience working with (and befriending) Christian priests, pastors and leaders over the years – despite our differences – has been one of love, mercy, respect, education and discovery.

The news of an 86 year old Catholic Priest being murdered today in‪ #‎Normandy‬, France in the most brutal of manners is very upsetting. What hurts me even more is that those who allegedly perpetrated the attack have done so in the name of my faith. How twisted has the world become recently?

Did they not read the Quran?

“…and you will find the nearest of them in affection to the believers those who say, “We are Christians.” That is because among them are priests and monks and because they are not arrogant.”

Did they not read the grave warning that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ gave, even to those in the middle of war?

“Do not kill the monks in monasteries, and do not kill those sitting in places of worship.”

One thing is for certain, I will not allow these evil, anti-Islamic actions of these twisted people stop my work with people of other faiths and I know well that all the believing and practising Christians I know will say the same.

Please pray for the family and friends of Father Jaques Hamel and all of the communities in France who must come closer together in light of this tragedy.

Adma Kelwick interfaith

Imam Qari Muhammad Asim, senior Imam at the Makkah Mosque in Leeds wrote:

‪#‎Normandy‬– The despicable act of murdering an 86 year old Catholic Priest, Fr Jacques Hamel, in Normandy, France, is absolutely abhorrent.

This attack in a place of worship and on innocent worshippers in particular demonstrates that there are no boundaries to the depravity of these murderers. In this extremely difficult time for the Catholic community, we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters of all faiths and none in defiance of those who look to spread a poisonous and perverted ideology by bloodshed.

Daesh / ISIS has proved, as it did in Medina less than a month ago, its complete distain of all faiths including the one it falsely claims it represents.

An attack on any place of worship, is an attack on way of life of faith communities, and therefore an attack on all of us, regardless of who you are, where you come from and your faith.

Even during the time of a war, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ gave the following instructions:

“Do not kill the monks in monasteries, and do not kill those sitting in places of worship.”

One of the Normandy murderers was a convicted criminal with an electronic tag on his ankle after trying to join Daesh in Syria many times. Further investigation needs to take place regarding how he was able to commit such violence.

Faith communities must not let this tragic incident to create division between communities, give rise to hatred, fear and suspecion and destabilise the mutual relationship and understating that we have between us. Only together can we defeat this indiscriminate killing of innocent people across the world.

Qari Asim pope

The Marrakesh Declaration

In January of this year (2016), interfaith leaders came together in  Marrakesh, Morocco to reaffirm the commands of the Madinah Charter to reaffirm the core Islamic principle of coexistence between people of faith and no-faiths.

Although this particular event took place in January, the sentiments expressed are still as relevant, if not more today as we bear witness to increased violence and bloodshed all across the world. See below a video from the declaration that showcases the interfaith voices that were present.

Rabbi David Rosen, International Director of Interreligious Affairs at AJC commented:

Thank God, there are many wonderful initiatives to promote understanding reconciliation and cooperation in the family of Ibrahim (not least of all in this Holy land in which I live despite all the suffering and hardship). Inevitably and regretfully they do not get an iota of the exposure in the media that is given to violence in the name of religion. So all the more reason for us to continue to work all the harder.

We continue to pray for the families of victims across the world and stand together with members of all communities, faiths and no faiths in the struggle against hate and violence.

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