French President Emmanuel Macron “firmly condemned” the heinous attack Monday on a mosque in Bayonne city in Basque Country region of southwest France in which two elderly Muslims were seriously injured, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.
“The Republic will never tolerate hatred,” Macron said in a tweet on Monday.
“Everything will be done to punish the perpetrators and protect our Muslim compatriots. I commit myself to it.”
Je condamne avec fermeté l’attaque odieuse perpétrée devant la mosquée de Bayonne. J’adresse mes pensées aux victimes. La République ne tolérera jamais la haine. Tout sera mis en œuvre pour punir les auteurs et protéger nos compatriotes de confession musulmane. Je m’y engage.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) October 28, 2019
An 84-year-old former candidate for France’s ultra-right party shot and wounded two men in their seventies on Monday.
The octogenarian attacked the mosque as two men were preparing it for afternoon prayers.
The man “approached the building by car and threw an incendiary device against the side door of the mosque,” Bayonne mayor Jean-Rene Etchegaray told AFP.
“The two people came out, he shot at them, hitting one in the neck and the other in the chest and arm. He then fled.”
The victims, aged 74 and 78, rushed to a nearby hospital with serious injuries, police said.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, in turn, offered “solidarity and support to the Muslim community”.
Over the past years, attackers intermittently targetted Muslim sites increasingly.
In 2007, attackers smeared 148 Muslim headstones in a national military cemetery near Arras with anti-Islamic slurs.
Earlier in March, workers building a mosque in the town of Bergerac found a pig’s head and animal blood. The attack came two weeks after a gunman killed 50 Muslims in Christchurch in a shooting spree at two mosques.
CFCM leader Abdallah Zekri said there was “a great deal of concern” among France’s Muslims. He added that attacks like the one on Monday were “not surprising given the climate of stigmatization of Islam and Muslims”.