• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

French soldier held over plan to attack mosque

AFP/The Local · 12 Aug 2013, 13:40

Published: 12 Aug 2013 07:22 GMT+02:00
Updated: 12 Aug 2013 13:40 GMT+02:00

French police have arrested a young soldier on suspicion of planning to fire shots at a mosque near the eastern city of Lyon, the interior ministry said Sunday.

The 23-year-old man, who investigators say is "close to the radical far-right", was detained at his airbase near Lyon.

He was remanded in custody on Wednesday and charged with the possession of ammunition and plans to damage a place of worship "in connection with a terrorist enterprise".

Judicial officials said he told investigators that he planned to fire the shots at the Minguettes mosque at Venissieux, a Lyon suburb, on Thursday at the end of the Ramadan holy month.

He also admitted to throwing an incendiary device at a mosque door in southwestern Libourne in August last year. No one was hurt in that incident which did not cause any damage.

Relatives had contacted the police after finding suspicious documents in his possession.

According to reports in French radio site Europe1 the soldier was "lonely psychologically unstable and had been through a difficult time in his love life". 

Police sources also told Europe1 the soldier had tried various time to make contact with Maxime Brunerie, a far right sympathizer, who was jailed for an assassination attempt against then President Jacques Chirac in 2002.

Muslim leaders in Lyon claim the attack represents signs of a rise in the anti-Islamic feeling in France.

"The fact that a soldier was arrested for a planned attack demonstrates there is a climate of Islamophobia in France today, we cannot close our eyes to this,” Kamel Kabtane, rector of Lyon’s Grande Mosque told AFP.

“Islam is increasingly stigmatized today,” he added.

Story continues below…

A demonstration calling for greater protection for Muslims is set to be held outside the mosque at 5.30pm on Monday.

France's Interior Minister Manuel Valls praised the investigation that led to the soldiers arrest.

A statement from the ministry read: "The interior minister reiterates his determination to fight against all forms of violence that are inspired extremist ideologies; that affect the values ​​of the Republic and whose sole objective is to create tension in society and spread a climate of hate."

"It will simply not be tolerated," the statement added.

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
What's the story behind French Neighbours' Day?
Families get together in the northern suburbs of Paris on Neighbour's Day. Photo: AFP

French soldier knifed by men 'angry over Syria bombings'
Photo: AFP

A French soldier is in a serious condition after being attacked by two men whose motive for the attack appeared to be France's military intervention in Syria.

Opinion - Strikes in France
France is heading into a 'summer of discontent'
Photo: AFP

This isn’t 1970s Britain but France in 2016.

'Don't worry, France is far from running out of fuel'
Image: Essence smartphone app

French petroleum industry chiefs try to calm fears but trade unions have called for protests and strikes to be stepped up.

French petrol prices rise as companies profit from crisis

French petrol companies are taking advantage of the fuel crisis by putting up the prices of fuel.

Interactive map: Where to find petrol in France
Photo: L'essence

This interactive map should help you find petrol in France.

Mass brawl at Calais migrant camp leaves 20 injured
Photo: AFP

A huge brawl in the Calais migrant camp leaves 20 people injured, including volunteers.

French fuel crisis latest: 5,100 petrol stations run dry
Photo: AFP

UPDATED: Some 40 percent of petrol stations have run dry in France.

Masked youths clash with police in Paris protest
Police and protesters also clashed in Paris last week. Photo: AFP

Labour protests in Paris have turned violent, again.

A complete guide to France's (many) ongoing strikes
All photos: AFP

A rundown of all the strikes in France today and in the coming days and weeks. Good luck.

National
It's Neighbours' Day! But what does it all mean?
Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
National
The French fuel crisis for dummies: 27 key questions
National
The trials and tribulations of moving to rural France
National
Five free smartphone apps to help you find petrol in France
National
A complete guide to France's (many) ongoing strikes
Culture
Paris: Street artist makes the Louvre pyramid disappear
Interactive map: Where to find petrol in France
Who is the French union in a 'fight to the death' with the government?
Society
Opinion: Why the French are absolutely right to go on strike
National
Here's why both sides despise France's labour reforms
National
Who is really to blame for the fuel crisis in France?
How to avoid running out of fuel if you're coming to France
National
Here are the parts of France hardest hit by the fuel shortages
Travel
It will soon be time to say 'au revoir' to the Paris Metro ticket
Culture
Revealed: The ultimate sex map of France
National
Migrants at Calais camp given dignity in death
International
How good is security at Charles de Gaulle airport?
Culture
How to make a traditional French cassoulet
Culture
IN PICS: Commuter trains in Paris get royal makeover
International
Terror attack 'likeliest cause' of missing EgyptAir plane
International
Who was on board the missing EgyptAir flight from Paris?
Lifestyle
New map reveals Paris flat prices by Metro station
Culture
Paris: Here's how to find French cinema in English
2,735
jobs available