#JeSuisPrêtre: Twitter lights up in prayer for priest murdered in Normandy
The hashtag #JeSuisPrêtre (I am priest) is being used to condemn the ongoing violence and pay respect to the priest who reportedly had his throat slit by two men who held five hostages in a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.
#jesuispretre en prière pour les victimes, les auteurs de cet acte fou et la France qui continue à être meurtrie dans ce qu'elle est— Mant Alex (@mant_alex) July 26, 2016
Fellow clergymen have also paid respect to the 84-year-old priest, Father Jacques Hamel, murdered in the attack.
L'abbé Jacques Hamel, mon frère dans le sacerdoce, a imité le Christ jusque dans le don de sa vie.— AbbéGaëtan de Bodard (@abbegaetan) July 26, 2016
Qu'il intercède pour nous.#JeSuisPrêtre
En communion ici ou de nombreux Pretres ont été martyrisés avec notre Eglise de France et notre confrère assassine ce matin #jesuispretre— Nicolas Guillou (@abbenico) July 26, 2016
This priest based in Paris, urged people to pray for the victims and killer and not seek vengeance.
Prions pour les victimes ET les assassins. Ne pas céder à la vengeance. "Pardonne-leur, ils ne savent pas ce qu'ils font" #JeSuisPrêtre— Don Olivier (@DonOlivier1) July 26, 2016
Father Hamel’s death was confirmed by the Archbishop of Rouen, Dominique Lebrun, in a statement as he urged people to pray for the victims and “not give into violence”.
Father Hamel has been described by members of the community as a warm and peaceful man.
Claude-Albert Seguin, a 68-year-old pensioner, told The Associated Press that “everyone knew him very well. He was very loved in the community and a kind man.''
Mohammed Karabila, president of the Regional Muslim Council of Normandy, told The Local he was “distressed at the death of his friend.”
“Our religious communities always worked together,” he said. “For the past 18 months, and the beginning of the attacks in France, we had meetings in the interfaith committee, and we communicated a lot.”
Father Hamel was awarded a Golden Jubilee for serving 50 years in the priesthood in 2008. At the time of the attack, he had been filling in for another priest, Auguste Moanda-Phuati, who has been the parish priest for the past five years.
"I could not possibly imagine that such a thing would happen to us," Moanda-Phuati said.
The two assailants were shot dead by police and another hostage is reported to be in a serious condition.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls took to Twitter to brand the attack as "barbaric", saying the Catholic community and France as a whole is hurting.
Horreur face à l'attaque barbare d'une église de Seine-Maritime. La France entière et tous les catholiques sont meurtris. Nous ferons bloc.— Manuel Valls (@manuelvalls) July 26, 2016
President FrançoisHollande has confirmed the incident as a terror attack at a press conference in Seine Maritime.
"We are facing a group - Daesh [Islamic State, IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL] - who have declared war and we have to fight this war using all means possible,” he said.
IS, themselves, have also claimed responsibility for the attack.
People are continuing to share their shock and disgust at this latest act of terror to rock France.
I'm fed up and hopeless... Everyday there's always a new hastag for another terrorist attack in another country #SaintEtienneDuRouvray— Cassie (@ilsm5sauce) July 26, 2016
It comes just under two weeks since the Nice attack when 84 people were killed and more than 300 injured.
Tunisian Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, 31, carried out the attacks, driving a lorry into crowds celebrating Bastille Day.
Following the attack the Amaq news agency, the propaganda site of Islamic State, claimed he was "one of the soldiers of the Islamic State."