In spite of attacks against Paris synagogues, protestors show solidarity.
About 100 people gathered behind the French National Assembly in Paris Tuesday evening to show support for Christians under fire in Iraq. Each demonstrator held up a placard with the Arabic letter nun, which the Islamic State has painted on the homes of Christians in Mosul (it is the initial of the word in Arabic Nasara, or Christians). The rally was held to urge French legislators to take action.
Like other European cities, Paris has a significant Muslim population, and recently it has seen attacks against Jewish sites. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters descended upon "Little Jerusalem," the Jewish neighborhood in the suburb of Sarcelles, north of Paris, on Sunday, reported the international edition of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Apparently protesting Israel’s incursion into Gaza, rioters threw a Molotov cocktail at a religious institution next to the synagogue, setting alight a Jewish pharmacy and mini-market, burned vehicles, destroyed property and wreaked havoc at the city’s train station while police tried to secure the area.
Police instructed businesses situated on rue des Rosiers, the historic Jewish street in central Paris, to shut their doors after receiving warnings about anti-Jewish militants who were planning to invade the neighborhood, Haaretz said.
A week earlier, Jewish Defense League members confronted pro-Palestinian demonstrators outside a synagogue on rue de la Roquette.
Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris, and other bishops of the Ile-de-France region issued a statement July 21 calling for calm. "We, the bishops of Ile-de-France, are shocked, as the vast majority of French," the statement said. "Such acts can in no way be justified by the international situation. We ask the government to do everything to keep…order."
"Our country must be an example and show that coexistence between men is feasible regardless of their culture, religion, origin," the bishops said.
Separately, in greetings to French Muslims for the end of the month of Ramadan, Bishop Michel Dubost, president of the French Bishops Conference Council for Interreligious Relations, said that in spite of world events that affect Muslims in particular, such as the situation in Nigeria, Syria, Iraq, and Gaza, people who live in France can offer the world an diverse peoples seeking friendship.
"We want, in the depths of our Christian faith, to unite with you in this confidence," wrote Bishop Dubost. "God is merciful!"