Around three quarters of the Auch mosque were damaged by the blaze. Photo: AFP
France's President Francois Hollande has condemned an arson attack on a mosque in southern France after investigators ruled that the building was torched deliberately.
Around 70 percent of the Salame D'Auch Mosque in Auch, near Toulouse, was burned down over the weekend. While no one was injured in the blaze, flames gutted the building and destroyed two prayer rooms and large parts of the roof.
By Monday, investigators ruled that the fire was lit deliberately, confirming the suspicions of firefighters at the scene, who said that there was a strong smell of gasoline in the building at the time.
Later on Monday, President Hollande released a statement condemning the attacks and promising the country's best efforts to find the culprits.
The statement said that France "strongly condemns an act such as this which undermines the values of our Republic and our respect for beliefs".
(Firefighters and police at the scene over the weekend. Photo: AFP)
"Muslims in France should be able to practice their religion freely and safely," he added in the statement.
The president said that "everything was being done" to ensure the perpetrators were caught and punished.
Prime Minister Valls chimed in on Twitter later in the day, stating that he condemned the attacks "with full force" (see below).
The Auch mosque was also subject to an attack in early January, soon after the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks in Paris. Unknown perpetrators threw bacon strips at the building.
France's Muslim community suffered from a sharp increase in anti-Islam incidents soon after the Paris attacks, with over 100 incidents reported in the first two weeks alone.