AGEN, France — A swastika and graffiti were painted overnight on a mosque in the town of Agen, southwestern France, the interior minister said Sunday, denouncing what he called an “odious” act.
Gerald Darmanin expressed his “support for the Muslims of Agen” in a tweet in which he described the vandalism as “contrary to the values of the Republic.”
Messaoud Settati, president of the town’s Muslim association, said he was alerted to the desecration at around 2 a.m.
The mosque had handed over surveillance footage to the police, he added. It shows a man entering the grounds of the mosque shortly after midnight.
Abdallah Zekri, head of France’s National Observatory Against Islamophobia, condemned the graffiti, noting that it came just five days ahead of Eid al-Adha, the most important feast in the Muslim calendar.
It was a “provocation and an insult to French citizens of the Muslim faith,” he said.
France has between five and six million Muslims, according to the latest studies, which makes it the second largest religion in the country after Christianity — and the largest Muslim community in Europe.
In November 2019 more than 10,000 people staged a Paris march against Islamophobia after an 84-year-old man, a former far-right activist, shot and wounded two men at a mosque in the southern city of Bayonne.