A Muslim prayer rooming in the mosque was ransacked. Qurans were burned and thrown in the street. Anti-Muslim slogans were written on the walls as several hundred people in Ajaccio on the French island of Corsica showed their anger at Muslims after two firefighters and one police officer were attacked by Muslims in Christmas Eve in clashes.
UK Telegraph Demonstrators ransacked a Muslim prayer hall and set fire to copies of the quran on the French island of Corsica on Christmas Day, in an attack condemned by the government. The violence came amid heightened security measures for the holiday, and nationwide fears after the November 13 attacks in Paris by jihadists that killed 130 people.
Manuel Valls, the French prime minister, wrote that the break-in in the city of Ajaccio was “an unacceptable desecration.” Tensions had mounted in Ajaccio after two firefighters and a police officer were injured overnight in a neighbourhood of the city when they were “ambushed” by “several Muslim hooded youths”, authorities said.
On Friday afternoon around 150 people had gathered in front of the prefecture in a show of support for the police and firefighters, officials said in a statement. But some in that crowd broke away and headed for the housing estate where the violence took place the night before.
They shouted slogans in Corsican meaning “Arabs get out!” or “This is our home!”, an AFP correspondent reported.
Nearby was the Muslim prayer room and a small group smashed the glass door and entered the place of worship, ransacking the room and partially burning books including copies of the quran, said regional official Francois Lalanne. “Fifty prayer books were thrown out on the street,” said Mr Lalanne, adding that some of the pages were burnt.
The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) and its monitor of Islamophobia denounced the violence and pointed to the timing of the attack on Friday “on a day of prayer for both Muslims and Christians.” This year Christmas falls just after the Muslim feast day commemorating the birth of the Prophet Mohammed.
Bernard Cazeneuve, the French interior minister, said the attack on the Muslim prayer hall showed signs of “racism and xenophobia”. He also condemned the assault on law enforcement and safety officers in Corsica, saying he hoped “the authors of the violence would be identified and arrested as soon as possible.”
Corsica is a department of France which held regional elections earlier this month, which had seen the far-right anti-immigrant Front National make unprecedented gains in the first round of the vote. On Corsica the nationalists won the regional election there, taking power for the first time.
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