Vandals spray-painted anti-Arab slogans on a mosque being built in southeast France, officials said Monday. Authorities in the city of Saint-Etienne discovered the slogans on the Grand Mosque late Sunday, including racist slurs against Arabs and the phrase "defend yourself, France" written in red and black.
Police were investigating whether the incident was linked to three weeks of urban unrest that spread across the country.
"Such acts turn their back on our republican traditions and our common desire to build a more united and brotherly society," said Mayor Michel Thiolliere in a statement.
Larbi Marchiche, who heads a Moroccan cultural association in charge of building the mosque, called the incident a "a provocation by brainless kids."
In a separate incident Sunday, attackers armed with two Molotov cocktails damaged a mosque in a low-income area in the eastern town of Fougeres. Suburbs and towns like Fougeres were central scenes of arson attacks, car burnings, vandalism and other unrest that began Oct. 27.
In a three-week span, youths torched 9,071 vehicles in nightly rioting, the Interior Ministry said. At its worst, the rioting spread to some 300 towns and cities. Several mosques, churches and a synagogue were also targeted, reports the AP. I.L.