World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder on Tuesday issued a strong condemnation of the terrorist attack at a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen, in France, calling it “a monstrous and evil act of murder committed against innocent people inside a house of worship.”
A 84-year Catholic priest, Fr. Jacques Hamel, died after his throat was slit in the church. Together with two nuns and two parishioners, Fr. Hamel had been being taken hostage by two men who reportedly shouted ‘Daesh’ (a synonym for the Islamist terror group ISIS) when storming into the church. One other victim was in a life-threatening condition, and the three other also suffered injuries.
Police stormed the church and killed the two attackers. ISIS later claimed the attack.
Lauder conveyed his and the Jewish people’s condolences to the people of France, to Pope Francis and the leaders of the Catholic Church in France.
Lauder said: “This morning, my thoughts and prayers are with the victims of yet another atrocious attack, and with the good people of France who sadly have become so familiar with the reality of terrorism in recent months.
“Alas, there is no respite. Every day, these terrorists make it abundantly clear to the world that nothing is sacred to them, that they will not shy away from any execrable affront to the most basic values of our society.
“Let’s be clear: this is not a war between religions, but between good and evil. We must stand as one in the face of this great threat. We must not be intimidated, but cherish our freedom, including the freedom to worship. We must speak out and not be silent. We must defend each other, and we must look after one another: one religious community after the other, one country after the other. This evil scourge won’t be defeated unless we are united in our resolve to defeat it,” said the WJC president.
CRIF, the umbrella representative group of Jewish organizations in France, expressed its feeling of ‘horror and sadness” after the attack on the church.
It stressed that this attack ”marks a new stage in the spread of terrorism in France” and expressed outrage that religious buildings are targeted.
According to the Jewish group, the proliferation of attacks in recent weeks, both in France and elsewhere in Europe, ”shows that the authorities and the population must now quickly adapt to this new emergency situation.”
CRIF called on all the institutions of the civil society ‘ to mobilize to make common front against terrorism and defend our Republican base.”
“An attack against a religious institution and a man of God is an attack against all religions and faith itself,” said European Jewish Congress (EJC) President Moshe Kantor.
“This dastardly attack will only strengthen our resolve to defeat the enemy of Islamist terrorism.” “This attack targets us all decent Europeans, Christians, Jews and Muslims alike,” he said.