PARIS – In a serious development of anti-Muslim hate crimes, a man drove his car into barriers protecting a Paris mosque, claiming he was avenging recent ISIS attacks.
The 4X4 vehicle “struck pillars and barriers in place to protect the mosque of Creteil”, in the southeast of the capital, before speeding off and crashing into a traffic island Thursday, police said. No one was injured.
The driver, who is the owner of the vehicle, was arrested later at his home.
In a statement, the rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, Dalil Boubakeur, described the incident as a “criminal attack” and an “Islamophobic act”.
“What has just happened in Creteil seems to justify the fears I expressed after the attack close to Finsbury Park Mosque in London,” the head of the National Observatory Against Islamophobia, Abdallah Zekri, told AFP.
He called for “more vigilance on the part of mosque officials”, and called on the authorities to “strengthen protection of places of worship”.
As police confirmed that the attacker was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said in a statement that his “exact motives” will be determined by an investigation.
Paris police prefect Michel Delpuech said he was “doing everything possible… to clarify the motives of the driver and determine if he is criminally responsible”.
On June 19, a man driving a van mowed down worshippers leaving the Finsbury Park Mosque in north London, killing one and injuring nine.