Muslim leader Ali Selim urges media to avoid linking attacks to Islam

Irish religious leaders express solidarity and condolences after murder of priest in France

Ali Selim of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland:  those who carry out  acts of violence should be treated as criminals. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Ali Selim of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland: those who carry out acts of violence should be treated as criminals. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

Dr Ali Selim of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland has said the media should stop associating terrorist atrocities with Islam, following the latest attack in France.

Dr Selim said those who carry out such acts of violence should be treated as criminals and that blaming Muslims generally was unhelpful.

The murder of Fr Jacques Hamel at the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray near Rouen drew reaction from the wider religious community on Tuesday.

Speaking in a radio interview on 4FM, Dr Selim said the media should refrain from associating such attacks with either Islam or Muslims.

“An atrocity is an atrocity. However, we have to isolate the perpetrators and not associate them with Muslims,” he said.

“[The media] have also part in this responsibility in what you say. When you associate crimes of this nature to Islam and Muslims . . . the language that you are using, the language that people in other various media outlets are using, is actually creating more of this by just blaming all Muslims and associating the problem with Muslims when in fact [we should] isolate the criminals and treat them as criminals.”

Religious solidarity

Calls for religious solidarity quickly followed news that responsibility for the murder was claimed by Islamic State.

A statement published by the group’s affiliated Aamaq news agency said the bloodshed was carried out by two of its “soldiers”.

The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, said prayers once again “turn to France where another act of terror has shaken the nation and the world beyond”.

He said the atrocity, including the murder of a priest and taking of hostages, brought violence and hatred to a place of worship.

“We must continue to reach out to our brothers and sisters of all world faiths to work in solidarity against the spread of fear and terror,” he said.

“Inter-faith understanding and respect are now as urgent as ever they were, and in fact increasingly more urgent.”

Condolences

Archbishop Eamon Martin has written to Archbishop Dominique Lebrun, the Archbishop of Rouen, to express his shock and to offer condolences, the Catholic Church said in a statement.

The targeting of people gathered in a church for worship and prayer was described as “profoundly disturbing”.

Archbishop Martin referenced the words of Archbishop Lebrun who had said the “only weapons that we can take up” as Catholics “are prayer and fraternity among peoples”.

The incident also drew condemnation from the Vatican, for whom a spokesman said there was particular shock “because this horrible violence took place in a church, in which God’s love is announced”.