Three churches have been targeted by arson attempts in the last ten days in Paris. Several investigations have been entrusted to the judicial police without a link between the different cases having been confirmed at this stage of the investigations. 20 minutes provides you with an update on these mysterious fires.
What happened ?
Twice, on January 17 and 22, the Notre-Dame-de-Fatima church, located in the 19th arrondissement of the capital, was the target of arson attempts. According to Parisian, which quotes a source close to the investigation, the door of this church would have been sprayed with a flammable liquid. The fire, believed to have been started with newspapers, did not spread inside the building.
On January 18, the Saint-Martin-des-Champs church, in the 10th arrondissement, was hit. The fire was started with pieces of wood in front of the main door and spread inside, according to the daily. The blaze quickly contained, however, did not cause any injuries.
This Wednesday, the Saint Laurent Church, located in the 10th arrondissement of Paris is targeted in turn. The fire did not spread inside. A sheet and pallets were installed in front of the doors of the religious building and police officers from the anti-crime brigade on patrol used fire extinguishers while waiting for the arrival of the firefighters, report our colleagues from the Figaro. The portal of the church is “very damaged”, regretted the deputy mayor of Paris, Karen Taieb.
What legal consequences?
An investigation was opened Monday evening for degradation by dangerous means because of race, ethnicity, nation or religion was entrusted to the 2nd district of the judicial police, announced the Paris prosecutor’s office. In a press release on Tuesday evening, the mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo announced that the city was filing a civil action, denouncing “with the greatest firmness [ces] acts of degradation”.
On Wednesday, a man was taken into police custody in Paris. He is suspected of having started the fire in front of a church in the 10th arrondissement of Paris on the same day. “A 47-year-old man was arrested yesterday in the early afternoon. He was taken into custody by the head of degradation by dangerous means on the grounds of religion. He is suspected at this stage of having committed a fire in front of the Saint Laurent Church” on Wednesday in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, according to the public prosecutor. The man is of Ukrainian nationality, according to The Parisian. For the moment, the suspect is not prosecuted for the other fires which targeted the Notre-Dame-de-Fatima church and Saint-Martin-des-Champs.
What reactions followed these voluntary fires?
The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, affirmed that the City of Paris brought “its support to the parishioners” and stood “alongside the diocese of Paris”. “Full light must be shed on these acts of vandalism,” she added. “Very shocked and in solidarity with the parish priests and parishioners of the churches of Saint-Martin-des-Champs and Saint-Laurent, whose doors were deliberately set on fire. The police headquarters has opened an investigation which, I am sure, will find the person responsible, ”commented the mayor of the 10th arrondissement of Paris, Alexandra Cordebard.
According to our colleagues from Figaro, the police are particularly mobilized to prevent other arson attacks. Patrols would have been organized, in particular near emblematic places of worship such as the Sacred Heart of Montmartre or the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral. The latter had been ravaged by a spectacular fire on April 15, 2019 and its reopening is scheduled for 2024.