When president François Hollande formally inaugurated the Museum of the History of Immigration in Paris last December, he urged the French not to give in to “scaremongers and prophets of doom” who dream of a “smaller and more spiteful France”.
Some of those spiteful prophets of doom appear to have been behind recent vandalism at the museum, which has left one those in charge “wondering what is happening in France right now”.
Posters against immigration and multiculturalism were plastered around the building’s entrance on Sunday. They read “multiculturalism is a failure and is leading France into civil war” and “mass immigration threatens our civilisation”.
The incident came just days after a previous incident saw graffiti daubed outside the building.
Words like “foreigners out”, “re-migration” and “end all this” were on the walls of the museum.
For Benjamin Stora, chairman of the museum’s steering committee, the significance of the incidents should not be played down.
“What is happening in France right now is not good. There is a rise in extremism and a rise of the National Front. The museum has been vandalised twice this week," he told Europe1 radio.
The responsibility for the vandalism appears to have been claimed by a far-right group “La Dissidence Français”, who posted images to their website.
The group claims the museum is “a place dedicated to the cosmopolitan propaganda and a globalist rewriting of history”.
A complaint has been lodged with police.
The museum, located on the edge of the Bois de Vincennes in eastern Paris, has had a troubled history. It was a flagship project of former President Jacques Chirac, but then became something of a political football as Nicolas Sarkozy refused to show up for its opening in 2007.
In 2010 the building was taken over by hundreds of undocumented immigrants, who camped there for months, to demand working papers. They were eventually removed by police.