A man in his twenties described as displaying psychiatric problems attacked and beat a priest during Mass in the city of Colmar, France.
The incident began at the St Paul’s Church on Paris Avenue at around 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday when the priest asked a man sitting near the altar to take a seat in a pew.
The man immediately became aggressive and began making threatening statements towards the priest. The clergyman attempted to calm the man, and in reaction, he headbutted the cleric, punched him, and knocked him to the ground, L’Alsace reports.
French Police Investigate Suspicious ‘Allahu Akbar’ Letters Sent to Priests https://t.co/AUL0r7Whrl
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Parishioners intervened to aid the priest and subdue the man until police arrived. When officers did come, the suspect asked for their weapons so he could kill the clergyman.
While the man was not known to either the cleric or churchgoers, he is known to authorities for violence and other criminal acts. He has a previous conviction, according to the newspaper.
The local prosecutor’s office has ordered a psychiatric evaluation after the man exhibited mental problems while in police custody and was admitted to a healthcare facility.
Investigators also claimed that, so far, “there is nothing in this man’s behaviour to suggest that these acts were committed in connection with religious radicalisation, or for racist reasons”.
In recent years, there have been several attacks against clergymen in France, including the killing of Father Jacques Hamel in 2016 by two radical Islamic terrorists.
In October of last year, the Nice terror attack saw a Tunisian illegal migrant kill three in a church and put France on its highest terror alert level.
Just a day later, a lone male shot a Greek Orthodox priest in Lyon with a sawn-off shotgun. The 40-year-old was taken into custody and later admitted to the attack, claiming that he had personal issues with the cleric.
French police “neutralized” and arrested a man Thursday morning after a knife attack inside a church in the city of Nice which left at least three dead and several injured. https://t.co/2KJqWrR9NU
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