France – A French Catholic priest was killed by a group of men in the name of the Islamic State.

During mass on Tuesday at a local church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in the Normandy region of France, a group of men carrying knives barged into the institution and held an 86-year-old priest,  Father Jacques Hamel, hostage along with two nuns and two worshippers. The men then instructed the priest to fall to his knees before they slit his throat.

An elderly priest was killed in a French church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray. Image Credit: Le Dauphine/AFP

The attackers filmed themselves as they conducted what was believed to be a sermon, according to Sister Danielle, one of the hostages who managed to escape. A resident reported having heard gunshots for 30 seconds after police responded to an attack on the institution. The two men were killed.

The president of Northern Italian region Lombardy, Roberto Maroni, has urged Pope Francis to “immediately” proclaim Father Jacques Hamel saint in a request that circulated on social media.

“Father Jacques is a martyr of faith,” Maroni stated.

After the request, the hashtag “santosubito” trended on Twitter, whose English equivalent is “saint immediately.”

European leaders respond to the attack

In a statement, French President Francois Hollande said the Islamic State had declared war on France, who should defend itself by exhausting all means bound to her legal capacity.

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy has accused the Socialist government of not responding appropriately to terrorism. He stated that France must be “merciless.”

“The legal quibbling, precautions, and pretexts for insufficient action are not acceptable,” Sarkozy stated.

According to Reuters, the center-right opposition has proposed for the government to hold all Islamist suspects subject to a confidential security notice under administrative detention to prevent any possible attacks. However, President Hollande has emphasized the need to follow the law as it is the beacon of democracy.

The Prime Minister of Ireland, Enda Kenny, commented that the murder having taken place at a place of God was “particularly brutal.” British Prime Minister, Theresa May, referred to the incident as “sickening” and offered her condolences to the French people.

ISIS vs Europe

This attack follows the incident in Germany where a suicide bomb was detonated outside an electronic music festival in Ansbach on Sunday, along with four others that had previously taken place in the country. The murder of Father Jacques Hamel is added to the horrific events in French borders, succeeding the Nice massacre that occurred less than two weeks ago killing about 84 people, most of whom were children.

About the Brussels bombing earlier this year cost, the Belgian capital plummeted by 122,5 million euros in sales in the second quarter as a result, according to an article published in Reuters. Businesses in the tourism sector, such as hotels and restaurants, were those most harshly affected.

The head of the French Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, had expressed the relationship between the war on terror and that between religions when he tweeted: “Everything is being done to trigger a war of religions.” This statement can be traced back to the attack on satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, that occurred early last year in response to an offensive caricature of Prophet Mohammed the company had published. The attack saw a frenzy on social networks with users declaring “Je suis Charlie” and those in opposition posting “Je ne suis pas Charlie,” which translate into “I am Charlie” and “I am not Charlie,” respectively.

As part of France’s call for emergency, approximately 700 schools and synagogues as well as 1,000 mosques are under military protection.

The French government assured it would do whatever necessary to fight ISIS when it joined the US-led international coalition against the group last year. President Francois Hollande revealed in a statement that the Republic would strike at any moment it feels national security is in jeopardy. As a result, France has been a prime target of terrorism and has been conducting several airstrikes against the group. In September last year, France launched its first one in Syria after weeks of surveillance.

In a statement the coalition had given to Iraqi News on 24 July 2016, it has been reported that they had carried out nine airstrikes near Raqqah and Manbaj, in Syria, obliterating factories containing explosives, tactical units, and combat sites. In Habbaniyah, Qayyarah, Ramadi and Sultan Abdullah, Iraq, the international alliance had destroyed a weapon provisions site, mortars and oil tanks.

It would appear that France will be in a state of emergency for a long time to come. No one is safe.

Source: The New York Times