A concert commemorating the twenty years of the end of the Kosovo war, organised in the Saint-Louis cathedral of the Invalides, has provoked outrage in France. The work in question, "The Armed Man, a Mass for Peace" by Karl Jenkins, includes a call to Islamic prayer.
But French soldiers denounced the desecration in an open letter published by Boulevard Voltaire. “The fact remains that this is a desecration, infinitely scandalous as well as painful to our hearts as French and Christian officers and non-commissioned officers,” the letter stated.
On May 22, the Cathedral Saint-Louis des Invalides, the military church, hosted a concert commemorating the twenty years of the end of the war in Kosovo. The event was organised by the Embassy of the Republic of Kosovo, in the presence of the Kosovo ambassador, Qendrim Gashi.
It was held to pay tribute to French soldiers in the conflict, since France was a NATO stakeholder in the war between the Yugoslav Army and the Liberation Army of Kosovo.
The commemoration consisted of a concert for peace, in which “The Armed Man, a Mass for Peace” by Karl Jenkins was performed. The work is a composition with the particularity of including a Catholic Mass, Biblical Psalms and a call to Islamic prayer.
Jenkins’ work has aroused much controversy, because of the opening where the Adhan – the Muslim call to prayer – included “Allahu Akbar”.
It continues with: “Allah is the greatest. I testify that there is no God except Allah. I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. Come quickly to prayer. Come to siege forthwith as Allah is the greatest. There is no God except Allah.”
In a letter addressed to Monseigneur de Romanet, bishop of the French armies, published on June 1 and signed by a hundred officers and non-commissioned officers, soldiers expressed their indignation at what they described as a “profanation” in “The Cathedral of the Soldiers”.
These soldiers appealed to the responsibilities of each one, in particular to the Museum of the Army, in charge of managing the cathedral Saint-Louis des Invalides, giving its authorization for the organisation of the event.
They also demanded that the Diocese of the Armies be seized before any further event organisation within this church.
Contacted by French Catholic daily La Croix, Mgr Romanet described the facts “which many websites have echoed” as “regrettable”, but does not wish to “add any comment”.
The newspaper recalled that composition by Karl Jenkins “has already been played in several churches in France, including the cathedral of Lille in 2014 for the commemoration of the centenary of the Great War”.
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