Pope Francis has declared: “Authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.”
So why the high security at Lourdes? Send those extra police officers home. Ground that aerial team. End those traffic controls. Retract those bollards permanently. It’s a religion of peace! What are Lourdes authorities so nervous about?
“Leave them; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14)
“High security in Lourdes ahead of annual pilgrimage,” The Local, August 14, 2017:
Worshippers can expect bag searches, traffic controls, and increased numbers of police officers on duty in the run-up to the Feast of the Assumption on August 15th, a key date in the Catholic calendar.
Lourdes is one of the world’s most important sites for religious tourism, with the shrine marking the spot where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared in a grotto to Bernadette Soubirous, a poor shepherd girl, in 1858….
Authorities stressed they had no knowledge of a particular threat to the site or the festival, but Béatrice Lagarde, the prefect of the Hautes-Pyrénees département, told local media that “there is no reason to downgrade the security system put in place last year”.
“We are taking into account that the national threat remains at a high level,” said Lagarde at a press conference outlining the measures.
Police presence has been reinforced, with an additional 300 police officers and soldiers deployed. That includes a team of 30 within the sanctuary itself, police dogs, and explosives specialists.
A further aerial team will also monitor the situation at the site from a police plane, as well as ensuring that bans on drones in the area were adhered to. A network of 30 cameras in the religious site and the city will allow further monitoring in real time.
The municipality has worked on traffic controls, aimed both at reducing congestion and crowding and guarding against possible attacks using a vehicle, such as the horrific truck attack on the Nice promenade in July 2016. The site will be pedestrianized thanks to a system of retractable bollards.
Just three of the 12 entrances to the sanctuary will be accessible, with anyone entering the site subject to bag searches. Additionally, authorities have banned processions outside the site from between midnight and 6am….