Faith leaders hold vigil for slain French priest

Faith leaders hold vigil for slain French priest

Rabbis, Imams and Christian clergy condemned the killing of Father Jacques Hamel

Stephen is the Jewish News' Foreign Editor

Members of different faiths together at a vigil in 2016
Members of different faiths together at a vigil in 2016

Rabbis have joined bishops and imams in a Westminster vigil held for slain French priest Father Jacques Hamel, who was killed in his church in Normandy by Islamist terrorists last week.

The solemn service echoed those across France and Italy, as religious leaders came together to condemn the horrific killing of Hamel, 85, by two men who filmed themselves slitting his throat and ‘preaching’ from the pulpit.

Rabbi Avroham Pinter and Rabbi Herschel Gluck stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Anglican, Catholic and Muslim leaders in front of Westminster Cathedral’s Door of Mercy, in a moving act of remembrance. The group also included other victims of atrocities in Nice, Paris, Baghdad and the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka in their prayers.

Mustafa Field, director of Faiths Forum for London, which organised the vigil, said: At a time of heightened concern in our communities, we cannot let the fear these atrocities seek to generate become normalised.”

The two murderers, who were shot dead as they left the church, had been inspired by Islamic State. One had been under surveillance for having earlier sought to travel to Syria.

On Monday, Senior Masorti Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg joined Rev. Alan Green and Yousif al-Khoui of the Centre for Academic Shia Studies in addressing an interfaith symposium elsewhere in London.

Wittenberg, who said estimates suggest that up to 300 Christians die for their faith each month, argued that Hamel’s attach “is an attack upon the very foundations of human life and society itself… This desecration reminds us of the vulnerability and exposure of each and every person to violent evil”.

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