On Tuesday a Lutheran vicar set himself alight in the German town of Erfurt. The 73 year old Roland Weisselberg poured gasoline over himself and set fire to himself in the Erfurt monastery, where Martin Luther took his monastic vows in 1505. Tuesday was a national holiday in parts of Germany to celebrate the Protestant Reformation. Bystanders rushed to extinguish the flames. Weisselberg later died of his injuries.
In a farewell letter to his wife the vicar wrote that he was setting himself on fire to warn against the danger of the Islamization of Europe. During the past four years the vicar had frequently expressed his concern about the expansion of Islam, urging the Lutheran Church to take this issue seriously. As the fire started the vicar cried: “Jesus and Oskar!” Oskar Brüsewitz was a 47-year old German vicar who died after setting himself on fire 30 years ago, on 18 August 1976, in the market square of the German town of Zeitz in protest against the Communist regime in East Germany. Both Erfurt and Zeitz are situated in the former East German province of Saxony.
Axel Noack, the Lutheran Bishop of Saxony, said he is shocked by the tragic event in Erfurt. Bishop Noack emphasized that the motive for the suicide complicates matters. He said he hopes that the affair and the question of how Christians should relate to Muslims will not lead to unrest. The Bishop emphasized that Christians reject a culture war. “Fear of other cultures is the result of our own insecurity,” he said, adding that since there are not many Muslims in what was once East Germany, there is not much of a debate about Islam there.
Another famous case of self-immolation in Europe was that of Jan Palach, a Czech student who sacrificed his life in Prague in 1969 to protest the Communist occupation of his country.
While some set themself alight others in contemporary Europe sacrifice others. Last Saturday Mama Galledou, a 26-year old Senegalese medical student, suffered severe burns in an arson attack by Muslim thugs, a.k.a. “youths,” on a public transport bus in the French city of Marseille. Muslim thugs have torched eight buses in France during the past days. They hijack the vehicles and empty jerrycans of gasoline into them. Sometimes they allow the passengers to get off first, sometimes they do not.