A man, said to suffer from some form of mental illness, was arrested by French police this week after bursting into a mosque while armed with a samurai-style katana sword.
The man, who is said to be a “familiar face” around the Light of Dawn Mosque in the Northern French commune of Feignies, burst into the mosque at around 2 p.m. on Tuesday while wielding a katana sword and reportedly made “incoherent remarks” — but did not engage in violence.
Members of the mosque alerted police to the presence and behaviour of the man and officers arrived on the scene minutes later, taking the man into custody without incident, the newspaper La Voix du Nord reports.
According to investigators, the man suffers from some form of mental illness and they have already ruled out various motives for the man’s behaviour such as radicalisation or Islamophobia.
“It is more about an individual who is a little lost,” a police source said.
Police say they are also waiting for the result of a medical examination to see whether or not the man can be charged criminally for his actions.
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Attacks on mosques in France are relatively rare compared to attacks on Christian churches which, according to a 2019 report, average around three per day.
In recent years, however, there have been some serious attacks on mosques, including in 2019 in Bayonne, when an 84-year-old man was arrested after trying to set fire to the door of a local mosque and then shooting two men who surprised him during the act.
In 2017, eight people were injured near a mosque in Avignon after gunmen opened fire on a crowd who were in the street near the mosque.
Investigators in the case ruled out a possible terrorist motive, however, stating it was likely either a quarrel among young people or a settling of accounts between criminals.
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