News Agencies – August 1, 2012
Two pig heads were found hanging at the entrance of a mosque in southern France on August 1st, in the latest incident of what Muslim leaders say is rising Islamophobia in the country. The mayor of Montauban denounced what she described as intimidation of Muslims after the heads were discovered in the early morning attached to two pillars at the entrance of the Salam Mosque, a huge pool of blood on the ground. Pigs are considered unclean by Muslims, who are forbidden from eating pork.
Police have opened an investigation. Muslim leaders said the vandalism was especially shocking because it happened during the holy month of Ramadan. It was the first such incident in Montauban, near the city of Toulouse. In 2009, pig feet were hung on a mosque in Castres, also in southern France, and a Nazi swastika was painted on its walls along with racist and nationalist slogans.
News Agencies – June 20, 2012
French police have detained a gunman who held four people hostage at a bank in the southern city of Toulouse for almost seven hours. The man initially demanded money but when he was refused, a shot was fired and the hostages taken. Claiming to be linked to al-Qaeda, he demanded to speak to the elite Raid police unit that killed Islamist gunman Mohamed Merah nearby in March.
He freed two hostages before police stormed the bank and detained him. The gunman was said to have been wounded in the thigh, but not seriously. His two remaining hostages are not thought to have been harmed.
A police union source told the regional newspaper Ouest-France it was not clear whether the man’s claim about al-Qaeda was “serious or a fantasy”. The hostage-taker was believed to be around 30 years old and known to the authorities, Toulouse newspaper La Depeche reported. He was from Castres, to the east of Toulouse, and one source told the paper he was a schizophrenic who had broken off his treatment.
A mosque in Castres (Tarn) was vandalized by unknown assailants with xenophobic messages and crosses, and “Sieg heil” on the outside walls. Other inscriptions included “France for the French” and “White Power”, according to Abdelmalek Bouregba, president of the Islamic Association of Castres. Pig feet were also suspended in the doorway alongside drawings of the French flag. The inside of the mosque was unaffected.