Nikolaos Kakavelakis, the priest that was shot twice in Lyon and is fighting for his life in hospital, had been attacked by men of North African origin a few days ago.
This shocking revelation was made to Euronews by Christos Koutsiouris, a board member of the Greek community of Lyon and for a number of years a chanter in the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, where Kakavelakis is a priest.
"I do not know who committed this crime. What I do know is that last Sunday Father Nikolaos told me that he was jogging on the banks of the Rhône and that five Algerians or Moroccans surrounded him, made fun of him, and in the end beat him and took his cross," Koutsiouris said to Euronews' Michalis Arabatzoglou.
"Maybe they have stigmatized him since then," Koutsiouris added.
"He was the best man, I do not understand why they talk about personal differences. There were some in our community who did not like him, I do not know why. Father Nikolaos has been here for ten years," he said.
He was trying for our church, a young man, 52 years old, and a good Christian," the Lyon resident continued.
"He has been fighting since 2010 when he came to Lyon to do the Vespers that did not take place until then. He was always honest and of course a teacher, he taught Greek to the children. I have never met a more golden man," Koutsiouris concluded.
The President of the European Council also condemned the attack in Lyon.
"We condemn this new horrific act in Lyon," said Charles Michel, adding that "all our thoughts are with the priest who is between life and death."
"In Europe, freedom of conscience is a given for all and must be respected, violence is unacceptable and condemnable in a democracy," said the President of the European Council.
The Greek Foreign Ministry condemned the attack too.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemns the attack on an Orthodox priest of Greek origin near the Church of the Annunciation in Lyon, France," the statement said.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also informs that it is in constant contact with the competent French authorities," the Ministry added.
The priest was shot twice yesterday and is fighting for his life, as reported by Greek City Times.