Following the arrest of a 23-year-old serving soldier who planned to attack Vénissieux’s mosque in southeastern France, 150 Muslims gathered at the mosque to protest and express their fears and anger about the rise of Islamophobia in France. The 23-year-old sergeant of the French Air Force was arrested on August 7 at his military base in Mont Verdun. He later admitted to attacking a mosque with a Molotov cocktail in Libourne a year ago. The Muslim community in France is in shock about the revelation of the planned attack by the soldier, who intended to target the mosque in Vénissieux on the day of Eid-el-fitr, the final celebration of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Speakers at the event, including the leader of the Grand Mosque of Lyon, have denounced the ‘climate of Islamophobia’ which reigns in France and made comparison between the recent waves of violence and legislative restrictions targeting Muslim communities and the inception of the Holocaust against the Jews in Europe. The leader of the Grand Mosque of Lyon also criticized that no politician on federal level has so far taken responsibility for what happened.
Police investigations have revealed that the soldier has been sympathetic of right wing ideologues and been trying to get in touch with some of its national leaders. The 23-year-old was indicted for “possession of ammunition of the fourth category in relation to a terrorist plot” and “degradation place of worship in relation to a terror plot” and is remanded in custody.