Losing or keeping your head? Free Speech, the Terror and the Religion of Peace

Nov 5, 2020 by

by Gavin Ashenden:

It was a sobering moment. The priest at mass on Sunday had just heard about the shooting of the Greek Orthodox cleric in Lyon the day before, who is still fighting for his life. He was reflecting on the vulnerability of the French clergy and the Catholic Church here. In 2019, ‘they’ burned 1000 churches down – three a day on average. The shooting followed the decapitation of a Church janitor and a mother in a Church in Lyon the day before. I have just heard the first news about shootings in Vienna. The media will say the routine stuff: ‘it’s terrorists. We don’t know what kind of terrorists; their motives are still a mystery to us.” They said this about the knifeman in Nice even as he was shouting “Allahu Akbar” while killing.

No wonder they feel vulnerable here . Not long ago an 84 year priest, Jaques Hamel, had his throat cut at the altar in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy.

This is a writing month, spent in my small water-mill in Normandy and, until Lockdown, Church was allowed up until last Sunday. No longer, but that’s a different story.

The assassinations of French Christians and teachers kicked off again in a small suburb of northern Paris. A teacher, Samuel Paty – whose job was to teach a moral and civic education course to his kids – showed them the cartoons of Mohammed that had been published by the satirists at Charlie Hebdo. I remember donning my cassock at a small demo and carrying a candle and a sign at the time saying ‘Je Suis Charlie.’ As a response it seems a bit lame a few years later.

So I was astonished to watch an interview with President Macron on Al Jazeera TV. Macron was amazing. He was being asked why the whole Muslim world has turned on him in the last few days.

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