The murder of a priest in a Normandy church today has been described as an “attack against all religions” as Israel’s president joined Jewish leaders worldwide in condemning the outrage.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack after two terrorists stormed the church during mass and made 84-year-old priest Catholic Father Jacques Hamel kneel before slitting his throat. Another person – one of four hostages inside the place of worship in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, south of Rouen, Normandy – remains in a critical condition.
As Pope Frances expressed “sorrow and horror” at the latest terrorist attack in Europe, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis described it as “a despicable desecration of the sanctity of human life in a place of peaceful worship.” He added: “Prayers with our Catholic friends”
Board of Deputies Senior Vice President Richard Verber added: “This callous murder of a priest in France in the name of a twisted ideology is an attack on all of us. The murder of a defenceless 84-year-old, a man who had dedicated his life to his community and was going about his own business is beyond disturbing.”
Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress, pledged that the “dastardly” attack would only strength the world’s resolve to defeat Islamist terrorism. “An attack against a religious institution and a man of God is an attack against all religions and faith itself,” he added.
World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder insisted the fight ahead “is not a war between religions, but between good and evil. We must stand as one in the face of this great threat”.
Condemnation also came from Israel, where President Reuven Rivlin said: “This attack shows the true face of the brutal nature and the horror of terrorism. The whole free world must understand that our values are under attack.” He added: “Israel stands side by side with the people of France, and we send our thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families.”
France is still reeling from a deadly terror attack in Nice on July 14, Bastille Day, in which over 80 people were murdered. Visiting the site of the church attack, President Francois Hollande pledged to fight IS by “all means”, while Theresa May offered the condolences of Britain.
This attack comes after for a spate of violent attacks in Germany over the past week and a half –with varying motivations – leaving Germans “full of fear” according to the governor of Bavaria.
On Sunday, a bomb was donated by a man who killed himself and left more than a dozen others injured. Two days earlier, an 18-year old German of Iranian descent killed nine people in Munich last week, prompting the government to review gun laws. Police said there was no indication he was motivated by Islamist extremism. In Afghanistan, another 80 were killed in a suicide bomb attack in Kabul.
Responding to these attacks at the weekend, the Board of Deputies said: “Our solidarity with the people of Kabul & Munich after attacks this weekend. Terrorism is wicked, whatever the motive & whoever the target.”