Toulouse Tribunal Trashed in an Apparent Islamic Revenge Attack after Removals
The 4-storey Toulouse administrative court which hears cases for removal orders involving illegal immigrants for a large part of south-west France, has been trashed by vandals and daubed with Islamic slogans in what police believe to be a revenge attack.
Police said vandals gained entry to the premises over the weekend (8 -9 March) apparently through the parking garage and then systematically trashed three of the four floors. The wreckers turned on all the taps they could find, ripping up files, dumping court papers, photocopiers and computers on the floor, breaking into judges’ offices and daubing “religious” slogans on walls according to a France 3 report whose filmed account (below) shows the slogans were hastily covered up before filming was allowed.
Other media accounts however said black spray paint had been used to scrawl an Islamic threat — “le prophète te jugera” — “the prophet (meaning Mohammad) will judge you” and “avertissement” or “Warning” on corridor walls.
The water left running apparently for more than 24 hours, seeped through false ceilings and floors causing significant damage to legal records, offices and equipment.
The damage was first discovered at 0630 on Monday morning and all hearings that day at the court, which employs 60-70 people, were cancelled to allow the fire brigade to pump out water and clear up the damage.
The destruction caused can be seen in this France 3 reportage:
The break-in came just seven days before first round voting in nationwide departmental elections due Sunday March 22 (with second round runoff on 29 March) where the anti-immigration Front National party led by Marine le Pen is expected to take possibly as much as 30% of the vote.
The affected court — the Toulouse Administrative Tribunal — covers the Ariege, Aveyron, Tarn and Haute-Garonne departments and handles litigation concerning housing, markets, civil services, local authorities etc. It also runs substantial numbers of cases concerning the rights of entry and residence by foreigners.
Last year according to La Dépêche du Midi, it heard 6,196 cases, including 1853 dealing with foreigners, from which came decisions to order 514 removals of migrants in irregular situations. Judging by this week’s vandalism the removals appear to have displeased some parties and the Toulouse Criminal Investigation Department’s working assumption is that revenge was the motive behind the vandalism.
Marc Charrié, the local police commander, told France 3 Midi-Pyrénées that while a lot of files and court documents had been damaged or destroyed and offices entered and ransacked, no robbery appeared to have been committed.
Reacting to the affair UNSA, a trade union representing court staff, told Le Parisien: “These degradations are ‘extremely serious because this is the first time a court has come under this kind of attack’. The union added that apart from the vandalism reported above, police said the name of a Muslim magistrate had been scrawled on the walls. The union said it feared for the safety of its members and described the graffiti as ‘a veiled death threat’ particularly as one slogan warned ‘the prophet will judge you’ “. The union went on to express concern that the slogans had been quickly covered with sheets before TV reporters could film, in an apparent nod to rising tensions over the upcoming departmental elections and the strong showing expected by the Front National.
Coincidentally police said March 9 that a drone had been flown over the Lycée Ohr Torah, formerly Ozar-Hatorah, in Toulouse which was where an Islamist terrorist Mohamed Merah massacred three pupils and a teacher on 19 March 2012. The drone was sighted by armed soldiers permanently stationed outside the school since the Charlie Hebdo and Kosher shop attacks France 3 Midi-Pyrénées reported. The incident, latest in a spate of illegal drone flying over sensitive sites across France, was said to have caused concern at the school occurring as it did so close to the third anniversary of the extremist killings.
Story: Ken Pottinger