Muslims in Paris show solidarity with Christians over Notre Dame fire

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Muslims in Paris show solidarity with Christians over Notre Dame fire

By Augustine Passilly/ la-croix.com

Muslims in France have participated in an interreligious gathering to show support to Catholics who are coming to terms with the fire that damaged Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris.

The meeting was held July 6, at the request of Muslims wishing to show their support and was organized by the Christian movement Efesia as part of the "Together with Mary" interreligious group.

Musicians had been rehearsing for about an hour and people passing by the Quai de la Tournelle, in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, already had their refrain dedicated to Notre-Dame in mind when, around 6 p.m., the gathering officially began.

They followed one another onto the small platform, with its back to the Seine and then on to the cathedral ravaged by the flames on April 15.

Among the group were Auxiliary Bishop Denis Jachiet of Paris representing Catholics, Anouar Kbibech, Vice-President of the French Council of Muslim Worship, representing the Sunni Muslims and Sheikh Mohamed Ali Mortada, the Shiites.

MUCH MORE THAN THE CATEDRAL OF CATHOLICS

"We had made an event around Mary just before the fire, at the Shia 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," said Amrina Darmsy Ladha, a Shia Muslim, after reading a passage from the Quran in front of the 100 people who gathered there.

Like her, many Muslims came to share their sentiments.

"We have come for the union between Muslims and Christians. We want peace in France. We too are with Our Lady," said Zahra Mohamed Ali, a Shiite Muslim with light eyes and blue flowers on her scarf.

His taller daughter, Malika, dressed in a black tunic, says she was "touched" and "sad" when she saw images of the burning cathedral.

"It's a symbol. When people come to Paris there is the Eiffel Tower, it's true, but Notre-Dame is even more important," she said.

Her words echoed the words of Bishop Jachiet, who reminded the gathering that the "Notre-Dame is much more than the cathedral of the Catholics of Paris."

STRENGTHENING INTER-RELIGIOUS TIES

Expressing his happiness that so many people were present, Gerard Testard, president of Efesia, said he was delighted to see "our Muslim friends come as if visiting a wounded person."

He expressed the hope that the event would strengthen the inter-religious ties he has been working for since 2015 through his association with the local Muslim communities.

Ghaleb Bencheikh, president of the Foundation of Islam in France, who, when he walked on the small platform decorated with a poster entitled "Christians and Muslims, together with Notre-Dame de Paris," shared similar sentiments.

"There will be a first physical reconstruction but also an intangible reconstruction, that of the nation," said the Islamologist.

This second aspect has already begun, according to Kbibech.

"Today's meeting symbolizes three levels of fraternity: between believers of the same religion, between believers of all faiths, and with humanity," he said.

After more than an hour of prayers, songs, readings from the Gospel according to Saint John and verses from the Quran about the "human gathering," the assembly released two doves.

While Notre-Dame is still standing, although clad in scaffolding, it seems impatient to reopen its doors to the promoters of this strengthened fraternity.

Mon, 07/08/2019 - 12:41
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