Lyon: 'Allah Akbar' gargoyle on the Lyon Cathedral

Lyon: 'Allah Akbar' gargoyle on the Lyon Cathedral


A new gargoyle was put up on the Lyon cathedral, the seat of the Archbishop of Lyon, in honor of Benzizine Ahmed, the Muslim foreman who led the restoration work on the cathedral tower. The gargoyle stands over a sign saying "Allah Akbar" (God is greatest) in both Arabic and French.

" 'Allah Akbar', everybody agrees with that! It's not as if we wrote that Mohammed is our prophet..." says one of the diocese people. Father Cacaud, rector of the cathedral, wouldn't confirm that agreement was given by the archbishop. The diocese spokespeople said that the builders sometimes take certain liberties outside the sacred area.

Repellin Didier, head architect for historical monuments, says the stonemasons and sculptures of the cathedral have a tradition to portray the people they esteem. Ahmed, who worked for 30 years on the cathedral, is competent and very humble. A quiet man who is appreciated. It's a beautiful human gesture, says Didier.

Daniel, the crepe maker next to the cathedral, says that this wouldn't have been possible at the Church of St. George, referring to the conservative Catholic stronghold. There are many others like him in the Vieux-Lyon district who applaud the efforts of Emmanuel, the stonemason who carved Ahmed's face. Evelyn, one of the worshipers, says that it could help bring the religions together. Jean-Luc Chavent, a storyteller, doesn't fail to stop by the statue with the groups he leads through the historic district.

The crepe-maker says that when Ahmed saw the gargoyle, he was troubled by the resemblance, and so he shaved off his mustache. Quite a few workers joined the work on the sculpture, he says, which surprised the foreman, though he was concerned that it took so long to complete.

Evelyn jokes that when the sun shines, the anti-pigeon spikes on the gargoyle look like two devil honrs. Yet, she's totally taken by the gargoyle, it's symbolism and its impact. Ahmed as diabolical? his personality is described as the antithesis.

Source: Le Progrès (French)