Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Wednesday 04 August |
Saint of the Day: St. John Vianney
home iconNews
line break icon

Muslims Protect Church in France on Christmas Eve

Hervé BRY-cc

Christmas tree in front of the cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris, France.

John Burger - published on 12/29/15 - updated on 06/07/17

Islamic gesture comes in wake of Paris terrorist attack

Churches may have been the most secure places in France at Christmastime. Coming just a month and a half after the terrorist attacks in Paris, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day saw around 120,000 policemen, gendarmes and soldiers stationed outside Christian houses of worship.

But in one town in northern France, a Catholic church had some extra protection, thanks to a goodwill gesture on the part of local Muslims.

A dozen Muslims came to symbolically protect the church in the town of Lens in the province of Pas-de-Calais during Midnight Mass Thursday, the Paris daily Le Figaro reported.

The decision came after France’s Interior Ministry issued warnings that “particular vigilance” should be practiced during Christmas Mass, PressTV reported.

“It is quite normal that Muslims respect other religions and a strong gesture that honors all Muslims shows that they are alongside our fellow citizens” after the attacks in Paris, said Abdelkader Aoussedj, president of the Federation of Muslim Associations of Nord-Pas-de -Calais. The initiative was intended to “give a different image of Muslims.”

“We would have liked this to happen everywhere else, especially at a time when Muslims are stigmatized,” he said. “This is the true Islam, it has nothing to do with these fools, these bad apples.”

Some 200 faithful attended the Mass. The pastor showed his appreciation of the gesture by presenting the Muslim representatives a “light of Bethlehem.”

“It is a great pleasure to receive this light today for peace,” a representative of the Islamic group said in front of the congregation. “Islam is also a religion that calls for peace.”

“They are our brothers. And as we are their brothers, there is no reason that we do not share that light with them. We have a lot in common, very few differences,” a parishioner said.”

Not everyone was so sanguine, however.

Robert Ménard, mayor of the southern French town of Béziers, commented on a similar gesture there, saying, “Since when do arsonists protect from fires?”

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Saint Mary of the Angels
Bret Thoman, OFS
All your sins will be forgiven if you go to a Franciscan church o...
Ignacio María Doñoro
Francisco Veneto
The military chaplain who pretended to be a criminal to rescue a ...
Violeta Tejera
Carlo Acutis’ first stained glass window in jeans and sneak...
Theresa Civantos Barber
The one thing we all should do before this summer ends
Philip Kosloski
Most priests can’t absolve these sins
Ary Waldir Ramos Diaz
1st Feast of Our Lady of Silence is August 1
Zelda Caldwell
World-record winning gymnast Simone Biles leans on her Catholic f...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.