Lyons: Arson at mosque

Lyons: Arson at mosque

A bookshelf with copied of the Koran was destroyed in an arson attack at a mosque in Saint-Priest, next to Lyons yesterday. The faithful who came for the morning prayers, extinguished the flames before the arrival of the fire bridge. The entrance of the building was the most severely damaged by the heat and smoke. The building itself was practically undamaged. "The perpetrators wanted to burn down the whole mosque," said the imam of the Great Mosque of Lyons, Kamel Kabtane.

Minister of Internal Affairs, Michèle Alliot-Marie, condemned the attack in a letter to the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM). She promised to use all means to catch the perpetrators as quickly as possible.

The incident caused anger and concern by the Muslim community, which plans to demonstrate today to denounce the 'increase of racism and Islamophobia'.

Kamel Kabtane says that after the desecration of the cemetery in Arras, after the fire in a mosque in Coulommiers, after Toulouse, the atmosphere worries them. The Muslim community asks itself these questions: is an anti-Muslim atmosphere in the process of taking a hold in France?

The president of the CFCM, Mohammed Moussaoui, denounced 'this new attack against a place of prayer, peace and reflection' and appealed to the authorities to do everything possible to stop the perpetrators of this criminal act. The CFCM called upon the citizens to be alert since the council fears attacks on mosques and cemeteries of Muslims.

Dalil Boubakeur, imam of the Grand Mosque of Paris, condemned a 'growing feeling of Islamophobia which is only worsening'.

Martine Aubry, First Secretary of the Socialist Party, said that if this criminal act is confirmed, it is once again, after the desecrations of the Nortre-Dame de Lorette cemetery, a despicable act of racism and refusal of the other.

Dominique Paillé, spokesperson for the UMP, declared that this new unspeakable act should be solemnly denounced and its perpetrators found and severely condemned.

MRAP (movement against racism) said that racism suffers from a real absence of recognition and substantive actions of the government. IT said that racism against Islam was banalized and that perpetrators usually came off scot-free.

Sources: HLN (Dutch), Le Telegramme (French)

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