SHAFAQNA- French Muslims, Sunni and Shia, have participated in an inter-religious gathering to show solidarity with the Catholics over last April’s fire that damaged Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.
The gathering 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.
The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), an official interlocutor with the French state in the regulation of Muslim religious activities, were among those calling for donations.
Paris’ Auxiliary Bishop Denis Jachiet was on hand to represent Catholics. Anouar Kbibech, Vice-President of the French Council of Muslim Worship, represented the Sunni Muslims, while Sheikh Mohamed Ali Mortada was there for the Shiites.
“We had organized an event around Mary just before the fire, at the Shiite 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 Shiite 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.
After more than an hour of prayers, songs, readings from the Gospel according to Saint John and suras from the Quran about the “human gathering,” the assembly released two doves.
Gerard Testard, president of Efesia, expressed the hope that the event would strengthen the interreligious 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 said “Today’s meeting symbolizes three levels of fraternity: between believers of the same religion, between believers of all faiths, and with humanity”, international la-croix reported.
The Notre Dame Cathedral is part of the World Heritage site of “Paris, Banks of the Seine” inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1991.
The site includes bridges, quays and the banks of the River Seine, along the historical part of its course, between the Sully and Iéna bridges, the Ile de la Cité and the Ile St Louis,
A massive blaze at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris devastated large parts of the 850-year-old church on April 15.
Around 400 firefighters were deployed to the scene but were delayed slightly by rush hour traffic.
Only two days after the fire, more than 750 millions of Euros have been pledged to rebuild the Notre Dame cathedral, aboutislam told.
Read more from Shafaqna: