An ISIS propaganda group has been celebrating the fire that ripped through the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, calling it “retribution and punishment,” according to a counterterrorist organization.
Al-Muntasir Media appears to be simply using the tragedy to stoke anti-Western and anti-Christian hatred and does not suggest any terrorist activity was behind it.
A poster of the burning cathedral was published on April 15, emblazoned with a message in French, which is translated as, “Its construction began in the year 1163 and ended in 1345. It’s time to say goodbye to your oratory polytheism.”
— TRACterrorism.org (@TRACterrorism) April 16, 2019
The poster, which was obtained by the organization TRAC (Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium), is accompanied by the hashtag “Bonne Journée,” meaning, “Good Day.”
The Al-Munatsir media organization has shared propaganda reveling in other terror attacks across Europe in the past as well as using other opportunities to stir up hatred against the West.
Officials are currently treating the cause of the Paris fire as accidental. The Paris prosecutor’s office has ruled out arson and possible terror-related motives.
In the early evening on April 15, the 12th-century Gothic cathedral—one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world—was engulfed by flames, which brought its spire crashing down and gutted the roof.
Tourists who might normally have been gazing up in wonder at the cathedral’s stunning ceilings and works of art joined distraught Parisians who had gathered behind police cordons to watch on the Ile de la Cité, an island in the River Seine that marks the very center of Paris.
The morning light in Paris revealed that the main bell towers and outer walls had been saved by firefighters who had fought into the early hours to bring the blaze under control and rescue the religious relics and artworks.
“The worst has been avoided,” French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters shortly before midnight when the fire had mostly been tamed.
France will launch a campaign to rebuild the cathedral, said Macron.
The call for funding was quickly answered by two French billionaires.
The wife of billionaire François-Henri Pineault, Salma Hyek pledged 100 million euros (US$112 million) on April 15.
On the morning of April 16, as the city mourned the loss of the eight-century-old Gothic cathedral, billionaire Bernard Arnault promised 200 million euros ($225 million) in a statement.
Notre Dame is the most famous of the Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages, known for its many gargoyles and its iconic flying buttresses.
The fire quickly drew the attention of world leaders.
“So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris,” wrote President Trump in a tweet, later adding, “God bless the people of France.”