(April 23, 2019 / MEMRI) Islamists worldwide have been celebrating the destruction of large parts of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in a devastating fire on April 15.
Reactions by jihadis on social media refer to the cathedral as a symbol of Christianity and a major point of origin for the Crusades. Several describe the fire as punishment for various crimes attributed to France or to Christians in general, such as France’s military intervention in Muslim countries or the mosque massacres in New Zealand. Some jihadis, including leading figures, view the incident as a good omen heralding calamities for the West and the global order.
The following is a selection of reactions to the fire:
Muntasir Media, a pro-Islamic State (ISIS) media outlet, published a poster showing the burning cathedral, with the caption: “A good day! Notre-Dame Cathedral. Its construction began in 1163 and finished in 1345. It’s time to say goodbye to your pulpit of polytheism. ‘A fitting reward’ [Koran 78:26].”
A French-speaking jihad supporter on Facebook writes: “800 years of […] pedophilia, worship of Satan and other diabolical rituals, all up in smoke in a few minutes … it’s thrilling […] not mentioning the Crusades and the various wars led by the Church against the Muslims.”
Another jihadi supporter on Facebook describes the fire as punishment for the recent expulsion of ISIS from its stronghold of Baghouz in Syria: “Paris is burning in flames. Woe to it from the fire of tomorrow [hellfire], for that is the [Divine] promise. Oh Paris, the air of your ashes is like snow falling on cheeks strained by exhaustion. Oh Paris, how long will you wander in the sea of haughtiness, do you not long for the army of monotheism in order to pay it the jizyah which is long overdue and provide it with full-breasted female slaves? Oh Paris, why the disobedience? You are a sinner, and what is the fire if not an army that came from Baghouz to take a right which was plundered.”
A Facebook post by Muhammad Nasr Abu Bakr which appears to express wishful thinking about ISIS involvement reads: “The burning of the Notre Dame church in Paris is an answer to the mosque incident in New Zealand. Allah bless your virtue, oh ISIS, oh pride of terrorists! Who wants to bemoan it [the fire] so we can stick our shoe in his mouth?”
On Twitter, an ISIS supporter writes: “They bombed the Muslims in the cities of the Islamic State and eradicated them with the ugliest types of weapons, and they thought that they have won and defeated the jihad. They didn’t know that they brought death upon themselves. They didn’t know that they opened the gates of hell, which will close only on their burnt corpses.”
Writing on Telegram, a prominent Al-Qaeda supporter who calls himself Shibl Al-Aqidah [the cub of the faith] celebrates the devastation at Notre Dame Cathedral: “I rejoice and praise Allah as I witness the fall of the oldest cross as a result of the fire in the church in France. This joy is mixed with sorrow, as I remember the massacres of Muslims and the burning of mosques by these infidels. Praise Allah who burned their churches and destroyed their crosses. And let there be no comfort to the hypocrites who expressed sorrow for this gladdening event.”
In a lengthy post on his Telegram channel in response to the fire, Jordan-based jihadi ideologue Abu Qatadah Al-Falastini notes that while most educated people associate the cathedral with the classic The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo, few are aware of the church’s Crusader past, alleging that it was from Notre Dame that Patriarch Heraclius of Jerusalem declared the Third Crusade after Saladin vanquished Crusader-held Jerusalem. Abu Qatadah writes that “today we see” the cathedral, from which the Crusade against Muslim-controlled Jerusalem began, “burning and turning into heaps of ruins,” concluding: “Perhaps it is a good omen.”
An Islamist rebel commander in Syria writes that the Notre Dame fire might be a good omen heralding the collapse of the international order: “Far from foolish optimism, rather I sense it is an omen for great good. This year there have been many dreams revolving around the glad tidings of victory. Likewise, the events that are happening, if we look at them in a comprehensive perspective, we will find them to be arrangements of Divine predestination laying the foundations for the collapse of the international order and beforehand, or at the same time, the agents of the American domain. All these are part of a recurring story in the annals of history, praise Allah. Today the oldest cross fell because of a fire in a church in Paris. By Allah, from the land of the den of lions [Syria] I read it as a great message, and see it as glad tidings … ”