A young foreign man burst into a church in the Italian city of Pescara during mass, threatening the priest and parishioners while demanding money.
The incident occurred Saturday afternoon at the church of the Sacred Heart of Pescara at around 5:30pm and saw the suspect, described as a non-European Union foreigner, harass parishioners during the liturgy whilst getting increasingly more aggressive, Il Giornale reports.
After the parishioners refused to give the migrant money, he began to get angry, according to witnesses, and started shouting insults and threatening people. The young man is also said to have directly targeted the priest and several nuns who were also present.
“There were ten minutes of tension. The priest was almost physically assaulted. No one reacted angrily and most of those present, mostly elderly women, remained petrified with fear,” local artist and witness to the incident Giuliano Cotellessa said.
“If it hadn’t been for the courageous intervention of some gentlemen it could have ended very badly,” Cotellessa added.
Panic at Christmas Mass After Moroccan Migrant Screamed ‘Allah’ in Church https://t.co/pscHSUO4C5
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The incident is not the first time a migrant has interrupted mass in a church in Italy. Last December, a Moroccan migrant barged into a church in Maclodio during Christmas mass shouting phrases in Arabic including “Allah hu Akbar”.
According to a local Carabinieri officer, the churchgoers were panicked by the intrusion with many worried that the migrant might have been armed.
Earlier this year in Germany, a similar case occurred when a Somali migrant stormed a Munich church during an Easter service. The 36-year-old shouted at the people inside the church and threw stones at them as well.
“I heard someone screaming loudly. The church was full of visitors. People have thrown themselves anxiously on the ground, others have run and stumbled. Children screamed,” one witness said.