Huge crowds gathered at Rouen Cathedral in northern France on Tuesday for the funeral of Father Jacques Hamel, the 85-year-old priest who was murdered in his church by two jihadists last week.
Some 2,000 mourners crammed into the soaring Gothic sanctuary, with hundreds more watching the ceremony on a giant screen outside.
A section of pews was set aside for residents of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, the nearby industrial town where the two jihadists, both 19, slit Hamel's throat while he was celebrating mass in an attack that shocked the country as well as the Catholic Church.
Along with churches across France, the 11th-century cathedral had on Sunday opened its doors to Muslims wishing to show their solidarity after the grisly attack, with the visitors paying a moving tribute to Hamel and denouncing radical Islam.
As on Sunday, security was tight, with police closely checking mourners' bags and backpacks.
The church attack came less than two weeks after another attacker ploughed a 19-tonne truck into a massive crowd celebrating Bastille Day in the Riviera city of Nice, killing 84 people and wounding more than 300 others.
As mourners gathered at the cathedral, Hamel's coffin stood before the altar, draped with a white cloth as is customary at the burial of a priest.
A stole, a priest's vestment resembling a narrow shawl that symbolises the passion of Christ, was draped over a giant cross.
"Father Hamel's death was similar to that of Christ, unjustly convicted and put to death," the diocese said.
Rouen Archbishop Dominique Lebrun celebrated the mass, with Marseille Archbishop Georges Pontier, who heads the French Catholic Church, also attending.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, whose portfolio also includes inter-faith relations, led the political delegation to the mass.
Addressing the congregation, Roselyne Hamel recounted how during his military service in Algeria her brother had refused an officer's grade so as not give the order to kill others, and how he once emerged the sole survivor in a desert shootout.
"He would often ask himself why me? Today, Jacques, our brother, your brother, you have your answer: Our God of love and misery chose you to be at the service of others," she said.
The service was to be followed by a private burial at an undisclosed location.
‘No place in France’ for inciting hatred
The frail octogenarian became the latest victim of terror in France when the two jihadists stormed his church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray last Tuesday and slit his throat at the altar.
Hamel's attackers had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and both were shot dead by police after a tense hostage drama in which a worshipper was left seriously wounded. Three other hostages escaped unharmed.
The man who was stabbed in the neck and chest, an octogenarian like Hamel, was thought to be well enough to attend Tuesday's funeral mass.
The attack stunned France's religious communities, sparking fears of tensions in a country with a population of some five million Muslims.
Cazeneuve said Monday that authorities have shut down around 20 mosques and prayer halls considered to be preaching radical Islam since December.
"There is no place... in France for those who call for and incite hatred in prayer halls or in mosques," the minister said.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2016-08-02
نویسنده : بازدید : 11 تاريخ : سه
1395 ساعت: 22:27