A group of French Catholics in Nanterre faced death threats from a group of Muslims as they engaged in a torchlight procession to celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception last week.
Around 30 or so Roman Catholics took part in the procession on December 8th in honour of the Virgin Mary and were verbally attacked by a group of around a dozen people who threatened to kill the parishioners and the clergy.
Jean-Marc Sertillange, a deacon of the parish which held the procession, said that the parishioners undergo the profession on the feast of the Immaculate Conception every year and told the newspaper, Le Figaro, that the Catholic group were called “kuffars”, the Arabic word for infidels.
“But shortly after 7 pm, and while we had advanced only a few hundred yards, a band of strangers on the way attacked us verbally at the time of the first prayer station,” Sertillanger said. He claimed one of the men said, “Wallah on the Qu’ran I’m going to slit your throat” towards the priest leading the procession.
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Police, who had been present at the start of the procession, approached the Catholics again and the attackers are said to have fled after seeing the officers. The organisers then led the procession back to the parish church, choosing not to make new prayer stations after the incident.
The prosecutor of Nanterre confirmed on Sunday that an active investigation into the incident was underway, while French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin commented on the attack, saying: “Freedom of worship must be able to be exercised with complete serenity in our country. Support for the Catholics of France.”
The attack on the procession comes after far-left Antifa extremists in Paris attacked a similar procession in June that commemorated Catholic martyrs murdered during the 1871 Paris commune.
Monsignor Denis Jachiet, Auxiliary Bishop of Paris, said the Antifa extremists violently attacked the procession, which also included participants who were children.
“They clearly wanted to fight it out. They were Antifa,” he said and added: “They snatched the banners from our hands, knocked down the French remembrance flag, which they trampled on, punched the parishioners. They threw garbage cans, bottles, even wire fences at us.”
Antifa Militants Attack Catholics Commemorating Martyrs in Paris https://t.co/MDiOulKhUP
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One victim of the violence, a man in his 60s, was taken to hospital due to serious head injuries he suffered.
Anti-Christian attacks have surged in France in recent years, with a report released last year by the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe (OIDACE) stating that between 2008 and 2019, attacks in France had raised by 285 per cent.