Charlie Hebdo: Pope slams 'deviant forms of religion' in wake of Paris attacks

Pope Francis said the gunmen were enslaved by faith that used God as pretext for violence

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The Independent Online

The Pope has condemned “deviant forms of religion” that are used to justify violence after the Paris attacks.

The Roman Catholic leader denounced the religious fundamentalism that inspired the three gunmen, saying they were enslaved by a subverted faith that used God as a mere ideological pretext to perpetuate mass killings.

In his annual foreign policy address to Vatican-based ambassadors, Pope Francis called for a united response from the international community to end “fundamentalist terrorism” and for Muslim leaders in particular to condemn extremist interpretations of their faith that seek to justify such violence.

He claimed the attacks were the result of a “throwaway culture” where human beings and God are rejected outright.

Jewish supermarket gunmen Amedy Coulibaly swore allegiance to Isis, while the Kouachi brothers claimed the represent al-Qaeda in Yemen

“Religious fundamentalism, even before it eliminates human beings by perpetrating horrendous killings, eliminates God himself, turning him into a mere ideological pretext,” he added.

The three day rampage, starting with the massacre of 12 people at Charlie Hebdo’s offices and ending with two police assaults that left the three gunmen dead, has sparked widespread debate about fundamentalism.

Revenge attacks have been reported at mosques and Muslim businesses in France despite calls for unity and tolerance.

French police forensic scour the scene of an explosion at a kebab shop damaged following an explosion near a mosque, in Villefranche-sur-Saone, eastern France

The brother of Ahmed Merabet, the Muslim police officer killed by the Charlie Hebdo gunmen, pleaded with people not to mix up Muslims and extremists saying madmen have no race or religion.

“My brother was Muslim and he was killed by people who pretend to be Muslims,” Malek Merabet said. “They are terrorists, that’s it.”

The Pope is visiting Sri Lanka today, where the Catholic community was hoping he could help heal the ongoing divisions from its 25-year-civil war.

It was waged between minority Tamil rebels, who are mostly Hindu, and the central government, dominated by the overwhelmingly Buddhist ethnic Sinhala majority, until 2009.

Additional reporting by AP