The Religions of Love and Peace
"The investigations are ongoing. There are still unknowns."
"There are dogs, explosive detectors and bomb disposal services [at the church outside the city of Rouen, Normandy region]."
Pierre-Henry Brandet, French Interior Ministry spokesman
"[Rev. Hamel was forced to the ground] ...They forced him to his knees. He wanted to defend himself. And that's when the tragedy happened [terrorists slit his throat]."
"They [Islamist jihadists] did a sort of sermon around the altar, in Arabic. It's a horror."
Sister Danielle, Saint-Etienne-Du-Rouvray, France
"I cry out to God, with all men of goodwill And I invite all non-believers to unite with this cry."
"The Catholic Church has no other arms beside prayer and fraternity between men."
Archbishop of Rouen, Dominique Lebrun
"Sometimes he was running all around, and his desire was to spread a message for which he consecrated his life."
"And he certainly didn't think that consecrating his life would mean for him to die while celebrating a mass, which is a message of love."
Philippe Maheut, Rouen diocese official
"The person who committed this odious act is known and he has been followed by the police for at least one and a half years."
"He went to Turkey and security services were alerted after this."
Mohammed Karabila, head, Regional Council of the Muslim Faith for Haute-Normandie
Francois Mori / Associated Press General view of the church where a priest was killed in an attack in Saint Etienne du Rouvray, Normandy
Anyone asked to name a Middle East country where Christians, worshipping the faith that arose there in antiquity, and where the faithful of Christianity have lived ever since, would be hard put to identify one other than the Jewish state resurrected from its ancient heritage site and which preceded Christianity by millennia. Anywhere that Islam is the majority religion Christians are under siege, their numbers steeply declining over the years as they flee persecution and violence.
And as the Middle East and Muslim North Africa frees itself from the pestilence of a Christian presence they look abroad to further wound Christianity. Pope Francis wisely counselled after the Islamist attack on Charlie Hebdo that it is a wise course to avoid insulting and thus inciting Islam to vengeance. Presumably his message of prudence will fall short of addressing the spiteful viciousness visited upon Father Hamel who humbly worshipped the Catholic faith.
One of the two ISIL-connected Islamists who attacked Father Hamel lived locally. His fascination with Islamic State and its message of hate and death concerned his parents leading them to convey his radicalism to authorities' notice. Adel Kermiche comes from an educated family, well-adjusted in France, his sister a physician, his mother an academic. They were concerned with his aspiration to travel to Syria. When Turkey turned him away at the border he was imprisoned in France.
But obviously as has also happened elsewhere in the world when devoted Islamists find their way to Syria and Islamic State impeded they turn to internal violence in the country where they reside. The message of Islamic State resonates with them and proudly their news agency boasts of attacks carried out by "soldiers of the Islamic State". And nor are other European nations with large Muslim immigrant populations exempt from the phenomenon.
"The Islamic State is waging a brutal war of aggression ... against our way of life", stated Joachim Herrmann, top security officer in Bavaria, where recently three jihadist attacks took place. Where a failed refugee applicant from Syria wrought his vengeance by assembling bombs in his room located in a home set aside for asylum seekers. Mr. Herrmann speaks of laws requiring change to allow for swifter deportation. As a solution to the problem of an excess of migrants and refugees and a lack of security clearances along with an inability to apprehend jihadist attacks it is a meagre one of screaming desperation.
The barbarism that Islamic State is so exceedingly proud to display in its slickly produced videos with its sickening detail to the finer points of torture and cruelly inventive death delivery in the prolongation of suffering, is not, in fact in quality and quantity so different from the kinds of institutional and legal punishments meted out by Muslim countries under Sharia law, reflecting the supreme authenticity of 7th Century Islam.
The pain and grief felt by the good people of France and Germany after their most recent travails will no doubt be considerably alleviated by the loving words of Pope Francis who has unequivocally condemned the attack that severed Father Hamel from loving existence. In the words of Vatican spokesman Reverend Federico Lombardi, the Pope has expressed "pain and horror for this absurd violence, with the strongest condemnation for every form of hatred, and prayer for those affected."
France, needless to say, remains on high alert and under a state of emergency, congruent with the July 14 attack on Bastille Day in Nice where 84 people were killed in a drive-by murderous assault of prolonged agony, an occasion of great celebration for Islamic State