Horrific events in France

Apparently there is no end in sight to terrorism in France. Twenty people were killed and 22 were injured at the office of the magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris in January 2015; four people were killed in a Jewish supermarket in the city two days later. One hundred and thirty people were killed and 352 were injured during an attack in a Parisian theatre in November 2015. A fortnight ago 84 people were killed and 308 were injured when they were hit by a terrorist’s lorry in Nice. And on Tuesday of last week the murder of Father Jacques Hamel in a church in Rouen filled every civilised person with disgust. He was a gentle old man, aged 85. This was an act of sacrilege as well as a murder.

Apparently there is no end in sight to terrorism in France. Twenty people were killed and 22 were injured at the office of the magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris in January 2015; four people were killed in a Jewish supermarket in the city two days later. One hundred and thirty people were killed and 352 were injured during an attack in a Parisian theatre in November 2015. A fortnight ago 84 people were killed and 308 were injured when they were hit by a terrorist’s lorry in Nice. And on Tuesday of last week the murder of Father Jacques Hamel in a church in Rouen filled every civilised person with disgust. He was a gentle old man, aged 85. This was an act of sacrilege as well as a murder.

Religion can be blamed for crimes like this. And religion is certainly a factor in some cases. People use religion to justify criminal acts. Ironically, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake by ‘Christians’ in Rouen ‘for the cause’ in 1170. And you would not have to travel too far from your door to find ‘religious’ conflicts

in this little state of ours. But there is more to these clashes than religion. In the case of France, that country is active in the fighting in Africa and the Middle East. France has a shameful colonial history. It has a huge arms industry, supplying billions of pounds worth of arms to countries throughout the world. The cause of conflicts are complicated: politics, resources, land, trade, racism etc.

A ‘Songs of Praise’ service was held on Sunday in the Muff Church of Ireland as part of the Festival. Members of the four major religious groups were praying and singing together. They gathered together later for tea and chat. They realise that they have more in common ground than differences. Many of the old arguments have now gone. ‘It is better to lose an argument than to lose a friend’. Many more people understand now what religion means – thank God.