A Moroccan migrant caused panic by entering a church in Maclodio, Italy, and screaming “Allah” and sentences in Arabic during the Christmas evening mass.
While the 35-year-old was shouting during the gospel reading, he was holding one arm behind his back, panicking churchgoers who believed he was armed, reports La Repubblica.
The town mayor and some young men managed to push the man, who turned out not to be armed, out of the church. The mayor then called the Italian military police, the Carbinieri, who arrested the Moroccan and took him to a local police station.
According to a gendarme, the migrant had moved from Maclodio, in Lombardy, north west Italy, to nearby Travagliato six months ago, and appeared to make the four mile journey just to pay a visit to the church.
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Italians are likely to be on high alert with relation to Islamist threats to places of worship after Italian counter-terrorism police arrested a Somali migrant with ties to Islamic State who allegedly was plotting attacks on Italian churches and the Vatican over the Christmas period.
The scene may also have evoked memories of the jihadist murder of Father Jacques Hamel, martyred whilst delivering a morning sermon at the Saint-Etienne du Rouvray church in Rouen, Normandy, France, in July 2016. His last words to the two Islamists were, “Be gone, Satan!”
UK authorities issued a travel warning earlier this month for British citizens in Europe to be vigilant over the Christmas period, especially at Christmas markets in France, Germany, Belgium and others, while the U.S. State Department issued a warning last week for Americans in Barcelona, Spain, to exercise caution over Christmas and New Year’s.
Catalan police are on high alert after receiving intelligence of a potential terror attack and are searching for a suspect of Moroccan origin. Spanish media speculate it could be a planned vehicular attack, similar to that inflicted on Barcelona and Cambrils in the summer of 2017, with the 30-year-old Casablanca native said to possess a bus driver’s licence.