The optimist in me answers: Maybe there's a ray of hope for peace after all...
A development in the story we ran last week about a muslim father badgering staff into removing a crucifix from his daughter's hospital room in a Catholic clinic.
The father has apologized!
The news comes to us from the Dauphine paper that also carried the original story, which was spread far and wide by... well, I was about to say other media sources, but it was primarily blogs doing all the work in publicizing this muslim father's shocking display of religious intolerance. (To its credit, the French high-profile paper Le Figaro carried a second-hand account of the incident, which is where I first became aware of the outrageous event that the father is now apologizing for.)
My translation from the Saturday, June 28th chapter of "The Crucifix Affair":
Yesterday [Friday] morning, a delegation composed of the imam from Villefontaine and the representative of the mosque of Bourgoin-Jallieu was received at the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Catholic maternity clinic.
Monday night [June 23rd], in the heart of this establishment, a father had demanded that personnel take down a crucifix hanging on one of the walls in the room in which his 12-year old daughter was hospitalized.
"It was important to bring up this subject with the representatives of the muslim community", said Sister Marie-Mathieu, president of the clinic's administrative council, yesterday.
Before stressing: "We share the respect that there must be between religious symbols, no matter the religion".
The Villefontaine imam condemned the father's act
Yesterday [Friday] afternoon, it was the father who was received in his turn at the clinic, at his request. He declared himself embarrassed for having acted so emotionally.
Joined yesterday [Friday] by telephone, Ahmed Hamlaoui, imam of Villefontaine and president of the mosques of Nord-Isère, for his part strongly condemned the behavior of that family's father.
"I do not understand him. He has strayed from the real religion and does a disservice to the muslim community. I hope that the public separates this isolated act from the whole muslim community, which preaches tolerance. Just like catholicism".
If only it could be so... maybe someday, if each of us does their part.
[Interesting side-note: The initial online account carried by the paper has attracted over 29 comments from readers, many of which have been censored by the forum's moderator, with this explanation inserted instead of the missing text: "Commentaire modéré par la rédaction. Motif : propos à caractère xénophobe" ("Comment edited by the moderator. Reason: statements of a xenophobic character"). This new development has been out since Saturday, and yet, as I write this, the report has not received a single comment.]