At the memorial service for Fr. Jacques Hamel, the Rouen priest, widely-considered to be a martyr and saint, who had his throat slit by Islamic State supporters in 2016 as he celebrated mass, French bishops condemned the appalling murder of Samuel Paty, the teacher decapitated by an Islamic extremist last week.
Paty, a teacher at the collège Bois d’Aulne, in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, was killed, reports say, for having shown his class a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad. His murderer, an eighteen-year-old Russian national of Chechen origin, Abdoullakh Abouyedovich Anzorov, shouted “God is Great” before he killed the teacher not far from the school. He was found and shot dead by the police shortly after.
The Archbishop of Rouen, Dominique Lebrun was joined by representatives of the Muslim, Jewish and Christian community at Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, Hamel’s parish. During the service, they laid a wreath for Paty. And in a joint statement, the interfaith committee of Rouen expressed their shock and to condemn the murder. They promised to guide the young, each according to their tradition, to create a true brotherhood where dialogue replaces violence.
The day before, Lebrun issued a statement expressing Rouen’s ‘sincerest condolences and total solidarity’ with Paty’s family.
‘May the murderer and those who feed fanaticism find the light of a true encounter with God. God never wants death, not even of the wicked. He wants humanity to turn away from Evil and reconnect with its duty of loving one another.’
In a speech citing Pope Francis’s latest encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, the Bishop of Versailles, Éric Aumonier, the diocese of which Conflans-Sainte-Honorine is part, said that Paty’s death had “shocked us, like all citizens attached to the values of freedom, equality and fraternity.”
He said, “it is urgent that we come together in the service of this education in fraternity which belonged to the vocation of Mr. Paty”.
The French government have promised to crackdown on radical Islam. Gérald Darmanin, France’s Interior Minister, said he would move to ban some Islamist groups. “There is no accommodation possible with radical Islamism. Any compromise compromises us,” he said.