Italian man arrested for Anti-Islam graffiti while on vacation in France

August 14, 2013

An Italian was arrested during the night in Avignon, southern France, because he smeared the walls near the entrance to the historic Palace of the Popes with anti-Islam writings. The Le Parisien reported today, citing the deputy prosecutor of Avignon, Thierry Villardo. The man, in his thirties, has been identified thanks to surveillance cameras and he was stopped as he prepared to deface other walls with slogans against Muhammad. At least seven other similar writings were found in the city.

It seems that the young Italian has had an altercation with some men of North African origin before committing the act. “He had a fight with them” said the deputy attorney Villardo “and went to buy some spray paint, he is not necessarily a chronic racist and xenophobe; he was really angry.” The man is currently in police custody. The town hall of Avignon, the Papal Palace and the Bank of France have all filed a complaint against him, according to Le Parisien. Even the Observatory of Islamophobia in the French Council of the Muslim Faith has announced its intention to file a complaint for incitement to racial hatred.

Appearing in the afternoon before the court of Avignon, the tourist smeared the walls of the Palace of the Popes with anti-Islam writings. The ANSA reported the deputy prosecutor of Avignon, Thierry Villardo, stated that the young man, who was arrested on the night between Monday and Tuesday in Avignon, “regrets his action.” Francesco Cattaneo, 31, from the province of Como, arrived in Avignon on Monday morning; he was to continue to Spain, after a brief stay in Avignon.

Cattaneo, confirmed the deputy prosecutor suspicions that he acted “in anger” after having a dispute with a group of people from North Africa. From a psychological report it was found that the 31 year old had a “difficult past,” in the words of the deputy prosecutor, and that “he was not in full possession of his faculties.” Cattaneo could spend up to seven years in prison.

Double desecration
Writing insults to Muhammad on the walls of the Palace of the Popes of Avignon, the Italian tourist, who is in custody in the southern city of France, has committed a “double desecration” against the Prophet and against a symbol of Christianity said Mohamed Moussaoui, honorary president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith. The desecration “of the first name of the prophet, the greatest symbol of Islam, and also the desecration of one of the major places of Christianity,” said Moussaoui on radio France. He also condemned the act as “odious,” calling on Muslims to remain “vigilant but calm, know that extremism can thrive only in an atmosphere of tension.” Several acts added to the anti-Islam rhetoric in recent days. Just three days ago, a soldier was arrested while planning an attack on the mosque in Venissieux, a suburb of Lyon.