Shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ to passers-by, Tuesday afternoon, an Islamic State sympathizer vandalized the Monument aux Girondins, a prominent city landmark in the heart of Bordeaux before being arrested in a police operation which saw the immediate area shut down for fear of a terrorist attack.
Road traffic and tramways came to a halt around Place des Quinconces and its historic column and fountains monument, as the area, popular with tourists to Bordeaux, was sealed off.
During the police operation, a 34-year-old suspect, previously known to police, was arrested and a sweep by the bomb squad was undertaken before the cordon was lifted.
Around the base of the monument, the Arabic words for ‘idolatry’ and ‘infidels’ had been painted in tall red lettering and are still visible.
A backpack left at the base of the monument was investigated for weapons and explosives. Neither were found, the backpack containing only a tablet and a copy of the Koran.
Nothing to see here according to the local press, the incident simply being a case of an ‘unbalanced’ individual.
Online, however, commentators were pointing to yet another incident linked to Islamic extremism, and to similarities with other such disruptive events, increasingly common across France.
An Islamic State flag was found at the man’s home, French daily Sud-Ouest reports.
Aside from its huge Muslim population, the majority not involved in terrorism, France is home to many radical mosques, Islamic cultural centers and schools funded from overseas, some of which continue to preach Islamic jihad.
Whilst life continues as normal for most French, day to day cultural tensions are growing, and prominent authors and commentators have warned that the country is sleepwalking towards disaster, a future they warn which could entail civil conflict and a split along ethnic and religious lines.