Muslims gathered for Catholic Mass on Sunday in churches and cathedrals across France in a powerful display of unity following the killing of an elderly priest.
Dozen of Muslims attended Mass in Rouen, a few miles from the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray where two French teenagers slit the throat of 85-year-old Rev. Jacques Hamel on Tuesday after pledging allegiance to the Islamic State militant group.
One of the nuns who was taken hostage during the attack embraced the Muslim attendees after the service, The Associated Press reported.
“We are very moved by the presence of our Muslim friends and I believe it is a courageous act that they did by coming to us,” Dominique Lebrun, the archbishop of Rouen, said after the Mass.
“Today we wanted to show physically, by kissing the family of Jacques Hamel, by kissing His Grace Lebrun in front of everybody, so they know that the two communities are united,” said Mohammed Karabila, president of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray Mosque, according to the BBC.
A group of Muslims held up a banner outside the church reading: “Love for all. Hate for none.”
Elsewhere, Muslims attended Mass in Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral, and in the southern French city of Nice, where 84 people were killed by a truck driver also professing loyalty to the Islamic State earlier this month.
In Italy, Muslims leaders filled the pews of Catholic churches and urged peace and dialogue.
“Mosques are not a place in which fanatics become radicalised,” said a member of the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy, Mohammed ben Mohammed, per the BBC. “Mosques do the opposite of terrorism: they diffuse peace and dialogue.”
A day earlier, French Muslims joined vigils for the slain priest and took part in a “brotherhood march” in the city of of Lyon, carrying banners reading: “This is not a religious war” and “We are all brothers and sisters.”
Photographs captured the show of solidarity in Italy and France: