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Algerian Martyrs : Mgr. Desfarges (Algiers), “we will celebrate their beatification with our Muslim friends”

“We are happy to live this beatification here in Algeria, because we feel that it is important that we celebrate it not only with Christians but together with our many Muslim friends. They too have experienced martyrdom”, Mgr. Paul Desfarges, Archbishop of Algiers, told SIR news agency on the eve of the beatification of the 19 Christian martyrs killed between 1994 and 1996. The prelate also explained how Muslims see the martyrs who will be beatified on Saturday, namely as “brothers and sisters whom they recognise and honour with gratitude”. “Attending this beatification ceremony is somehow a way for them to emphasise that it was not Islam that killed them, but an ideology which disfigures this religion”, the archbishop remarked. Indeed, “those who committed these murderous acts – he said – have transformed Islam into a caricature of itself, into an ideology of violence and death”. Mgr. Desfarges went on to stress how “throughout the history of Algeria, violence has struck not only Christians but also Muslims”. According to him, the 19 martyrs “were killed simply because they remained faithful to their hearts, to their consciences”. Finally, he said, “it will be the first time that Christian martyrs will be proclaimed blessed in a Muslim country”, the Archbishop said, adding that “the authorities have understood the truest meaning of this celebration: we want to testify that it is possible to live together, that it is possible for believers of different faiths to walk side by side”. “Many Imams and authorities of the country will be attending the beatification ceremony. This is the truest image of Islam that most Algerians live and practice – an Islam of tolerance, peace and encounter, open to the Church and to other religions”.

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