Muslims show support to Catholics grieving Notre-Dame

Muslims in France are standing with Catholics grieving Paris’s fire-damaged Notre Dame Cathedral.

Their vision of an inter-religious gathering to show their support was realised in Paris last Saturday, when they joined with Catholics and Christians of other religions in song and prayer.

The celebration of inter-faith togetherness was organised by Christian movement Efesia as part of its “Together with Mary” inter-religious group.

President of Efesia, Gerard Testard, said he was delighted to see “our Muslim friends come as if visiting a wounded person.”

Paris’ Auxiliary Bishop Denis Jachiet represented Catholics, Anouar Kbibech, Vice-President of the French Council of Muslim Worship, represented the Sunni Muslims, while Sheikh Mohamed Ali Mortada represented Shiites.

Jachiet reminded the gathering that the “Notre-Dame is much more than the cathedral of the Catholics of Paris.”

Ghaleb Bencheikh, who is an Islamologist and president of the Foundation of Islam in France, shared similar sentiments.

“There will be a first physical reconstruction but also an intangible reconstruction, that of the nation,” he said.

In Kbibech ‘s opinion, this second aspect has already begun.

“Today’s meeting symbolises three levels of fraternity: between believers of the same religion, between believers of all faiths and with humanity,” he said.

People from the Shiite community are positive about the event.

“We had organized an event around Mary just before the fire, at the Shiite mosque in La Courneuve, with our friends from Efesia. At a meeting, after the disaster, we asked ourselves how we could show our support for the Christian community,” one said.

Another commented: “We have come for the union between Muslims and Christians. We want peace in France. We too are with Our Lady”. She was “touched” and “sad” when she saw images of the burning cathedral.

Yet another said: “[Notre Dame is] a symbol. When people come to Paris there is the Eiffel Tower, it’s true, but Notre-Dame is even more important”.

Jachiet was of a similar opinion, saying “Notre-Dame is much more than the cathedral of the Catholics of Paris.”

After more than an hour of prayers, songs, readings from the Gospel according to St John and suras from the Quran about the “human gathering,” two doves were released.


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