Muslims across France attended Catholic Mass on Sunday to show their solidarity and compassion in the wake of the brutal murder of a French priest by two teenagers who claimed to be acting in the name of the Islamic State.
“Solidarity and condolences,” Anouar Kbibech, the head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith wrote on Twitter. “Call to national unity.”
The Associated Press reported that a few dozen Muslims congregated at the Gothic cathedral in Rouen where Reverend Jacques Hamel, 85, had his throat slit on Tuesday.
Among the parishioners in Rouen was a nun who was taken hostage at Hamel’s church. According to AP, she shook hands and embraced Muslim churchgoers. Muslims also revealed a banner outside the church, with the words “Love for all. Hate for none.”
Other gestures of solidarity were reported elsewhere in France, such as in Paris, at the Notre-Dame Cathedral, and in Nice, where the French Riviera city’s top imam Otaman Aissaoui reportedly led a delegation to mass. Nice, too, was recently shaken by an IS-linked incident after a man plowed through a Bastille Day crowd who had gathered to watch the fireworks, killing 85 and injuring 435 (including many Muslims.)
Also on Sunday, Prime Minister Manuel Valls called for a new “pact” with France’s Muslim community. “Islam has found its place in the Republic” Valls wrote, “Contrary to the repeated attacks of populists on the right and far-right.” Valls also stressed his condemnation of that “intolerable rejection of Islam and Muslims.”
The show of solidarity also comes as Muslim community leaders put up a united front in their refusal to bury one of the teens who murdered the priest.
Gestures of solidarity from Muslim leaders also happened in Italy, the European country with the biggest Catholic population.
Pope Francis condemned and mourned the attack, and the Vatican called Hamel’s murder “barbaric.” French President Francois Hollande called the attack and killing a “vile terrorist attack” and doubled down on France’s commitment to battling the Islamic State. “We are put to the test yet again,” Hollande said, according to NPR.
The brutal murder follows the recent attack in Nice where more than 80 people were killed when a militant drove a truck through crowds of party-goers celebrating Bastille Day earlier in July.