Arson attack damages Lyon mosque

Saint Priest mosque arsonA mosque near the southeast city of Lyon was slightly damaged by fire early Saturday in an attack that the French interior ministry in Paris said was arson.

The fire broke out at the entrance to the mosque in the suburb of Saint Priest but did not spread and the only damage to the interior was caused by smoke, police said. However, an AFP photographer saw a number of burned books from a bookcase which had been standing next to the door.

Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie had written to the president of the French council of Muslims, Mohammed Moussaoui, to convey her concern at the arson attack on the mosque, the ministry in Paris said.

The ministry added that police forensics experts were working to “find who was responsible for this intolerable and cowardly attack as soon as possible.”

The mosque rector, Kamal Kabtane, condemned “the rise in racism and Islamophobia” and called for a demonstration on Sunday outside the mosque when he visited the scene with the local mayor.

He referred to recent anti-Islamic incidents in France, including an attack on another mosque in the Lyon area in August and the desecration of 500 Muslim soldiers’ tombs in a war cemetery in the north of the country earlier this month.

Police said they had found a number of clues which were expected to aid them in their inquiries.

AFP, 22 December 2008

See also “Lyons: Arson at mosque”, Islam in Europe, 21 December 2008

And “Sarkozy condemns racist arson attack on mosque”, Expatica, 22 December 2008

Saint-Priest demonstration