Two men have been spared jail after they burst into evening service at a convent warning nuns they must either convert to Islam or go to hell.
The 26- and 28-year-old defendants were released from court in Verdun, northeast France last week, with the magistrate citing diminished mental responsibility at the time of the incident, when he said the men were suffering from psychiatric disorders.
For having inflicted “psychological violence” against the nuns they urged to convert, the prosecutor requested that each man be given a 10-month suspended prison sentence, local media reports.
“There is no link between your actions and terrorism,” the president of the court told the defendants, explaining: “The terms and expressions used, while they had the effect of disturbing the sisters, are not specific to radical discourse nor were they intended to frighten.”
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On November 10 last year, the men rang the doorbell of the small city’s Carmelite convent and announced they wanted to “discuss religion”, according to local media.
Once inside, one of the men proceeded to assert that “Islam corrects the teachings that Christianity has distorted”, Sister Marie-Josephe told the court.
The white-haired nun, who local media reports had welcomed the defendants with a big smile as the court hearing opened, said she was not impressed by the declaration, remarking that her faith tells her otherwise.
The two men then strode through to the convent chapel and disrupted the evening service taking place there as they began to pray aloud.
In court, the defendants highlighted having removed their shoes to insist they had entered with respect, but the elder of the two admitted that during the service: “I approached Sister Marie-Thérèse and whispered in her ear: ‘If you do not convert, you will go to hell.’”
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Highlighting the current situation with regards to Islamic fundamentalist terror in France, some of the six sisters present during the incident testified of their terror during the incident in November, when French authorities declared the threat of attacks to be at an unprecedented level.
A doctor disclosed he had prescribed medical leave of periods ranging from two to eight days for the women, in whom he had noted “perceptible to marked psychological impact” resulting from the men’s actions.
After writing passages in the convent guestbook commanding the Carmelites convert to Islam, the two men thanked the nuns and le150.02
ft. “It was wrong,” the younger of the two defendants admitted in court, stating that he understood the women had been scared.
Since Islamic extremists carried out the brutal murder of Father Jacques Hamel during morning mass in Normandy in 2016, Catholics in France are nervous about religiously motivated terror, with anti-Christian attacks having jumped 245 per cent between 2008 and 2017.