A French man who threw grenades at a mosque in western Paris has been sentenced to three years in prison, as mosque leaders asserted they have pardoned him.
The Muslim community “condemned the anti-Islamic act” but forgave the man, mosque’s imam, Mohamed Lamaachi, told French newspaper Le Parisien, Local.fr reported on Thursday, February 26.
The imam explained their move as based on religious teachings of forgiveness and respect.
The attacker was jailed on Wednesday after carrying out an attack on the Le Mans mosque in western France in the middle of the night of January 7th/8th.
The man, 69, threw four grenades at the mosque and fired several rounds at the building. No one was injured in the attack.
He told the court that he carried out the attack at a time when he “doubted” anyone was inside the building, claiming he was under the influence of alcohol at the time.
He added that the act was “spur of the moment” and that he had stuck screws to the grenades to instill fear after Charlie Hebdo attacks that left 17 people killed, including two Muslims.
“I’m a Republican and an atheist, and what happened at Charlie Hebdo infuriated me,” he told the court.
“It’s putting a barrier in front of the freedom of the press in our country.”
Seeing the Charlie Hebdo attack as a betrayal of Islamic faith, leaders from Muslim countries and organizations have joined worldwide condemnation of the attack, saying the attackers should not be associated with Islam.
Yet, the National Observatory Against Islamophobia said over one hundred incidents have been reported to the police since Charlie Hebdo attacks of January 7-9.
The rise in attacks over the last two weeks represents an increase of 110 percent over the whole of January 2014, the organization said.
Moreover, a Muslim father was stabbed to death in his own home in southern France this week by a neighbor who claimed to be avenging Charlie Hebdo.
The reprisals were a “predictable” response, according to Samy Debah, the president of the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF).
“The reality of discrimination is catching up with us,” he told The Local recently.
“Muslims are scared. I’m scared for my mother, my sister. I live in a working class neighborhood and I would have never imagined that such things could happen.”