Police have launched an investigation after an 11th-century chapel in the French commune of Fabrègues was found with graffiti resembling the Pakistani flag.
The act of vandalism is believed to have taken place on Monday, according to the commune’s mayor Jacques Martinier who stated that he was informed about the desecration on Tuesday and immediately filed a complaint and alerted the local gendarmerie.
“I think it’s related to Macron’s speech about Samuel Paty and the cartoons. There were demonstrations in Pakistan,” Mayor Martinier told the French newspaper, Le Figaro, on Thursday.
“It’s a building on a high point, far from the city centre. Those who did this could have come from anywhere,” he said and claimed that the incident was a “symbolic act”.
Fabrice Thiry, a local politician and member of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, shared pictures of the graffiti on Facebook and labelled the incident a “Christianophobic desecration”.
Just hours later, Thiry posted pictures of the chapel being cleaned and accused local authorities of trying to secretly erase the graffiti and “sweep Christianophobia under the rug”.
Twitter Warns Breitbart Reporter over Violating Pakistani Law with Mohammed Cartoons https://t.co/vptaR9yeQi
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 29, 2020
The act comes after Pakistan has seen violent protests against the French government and French President Emmanuel Macron in recent weeks. At one point, at least seven police officers and special rangers were held hostage by supporters of a Pakistani radical Islamist party.
The now-banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) called for the expulsion of the French ambassador earlier this month, and its leader was subsequently arrested in Lahore, provoking riots among supporters.
The TLP has campaigned against the French government for months after President Emmanuel Macron spoke out in defence of the right for satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to publish cartoons of the Islamic prophet, Mohammed.
The Pakistani government has been critical of the cartoons’ publication and attempted to have social media giant Twitter remove posts showing the images being projected onto a French government building in Montpellier in October following the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty.
Due to the escalating levels of violence in Pakistan, the French government urged citizens earlier this month to leave the country temporarily, stating: “Due to the serious threats to French interests in Pakistan, French nationals and French companies are advised to temporarily leave the country.”
France Urges Citizens to Flee Pakistan Amid Islamist Mob Violence https://t.co/Ci5WJZxmpR
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 15, 2021
Earlier this week, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke out on blasphemy and called for Muslim countries to engage in an international trade boycott of Western nations to force the West to pass blasphemy laws.
“When 50 Muslim countries will unite and say this, and say that if something like this happens in any country, then we will launch a trade boycott on them and not buy their goods, that will have an effect,” Prime Minister Khan said.