It's been a tough week as the people of France are still mourning the loss of Father Jacques Hamel — a beloved Normandy priest killed by two men who stormed his church during mass. The Islamic State reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack.
In a remarkable display of solidarity, Muslims in France and Italy joined Catholics in churches for mass on Sunday. It was a powerful representation that debunked the myth of an unbridgeable religious divide among Christians and Muslims in Europe.
"It is a symbol," Mohammed Karabila, the president of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray mosque, told EuroNews. "We want the spilled blood of Jacques Hamel to act as cement for more fraternity, more equality and greater ties between the communities."
At least 100 Muslims attended the mass at the Rouen Cathedral, located only a few miles from where the attack occurred. The service, which was also a tribute to the 85-year-old priest, featured Catholics and Muslims sitting together and comforting each other.
"We must not oppose violence with violence, but oppose violence with love," Father Frédéric Benoist said during the service, according to France24.
In addition to Muslims, some Jews also attended masses on Sunday to show support for the Catholic community.
"We are all Catholics of France," Anouar Kbibech, the head of the CFCM — France's Muslim council — told the BBC.
As one Muslim woman told EuroNews, "It is the same God. It is the house of God."
Muslims and Catholics also prayed together in interfaith services in Italy on Sunday.
"These people are tainting our religion and it is terrible to know that many people consider all Muslim terrorists. That is not the case," said Ahmed El Balazi, the imam of the Vobarno mosque in Italy's Lombard province, according to The New York Times. "Religion is one thing. Another is the behavior of Muslims who don't represent us."
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Cover image via Mila Supinskaya Glashchenko / Shutterstock.