Published: 03 Aug 2011 09:43 GMT+1
Updated: 03 Aug 2011 09:28 GMT+1
Police in Nice have opened an inquiry after roads close to a mosque were given names that could “incite discrimination and racial hatred.”
The three roads, officially named rue d’Angleterre, rue de la Suisse and rue d’Italie, had their original street signs covered with new plaques saying “Burqa street” (rue de la Burqa), “Muslim Brotherhood street” (rue des Frères musulmans) and “Stoning street” (rue de la Lapidation).
Philippe Vardon, president of the group Nissa Rebela, defended the actions on its website.
“The Notre-Dame quarter has become a no-go area, starting with the rue de Suisse where prayers block the street,” he wrote.
Commenting on reports that police had taken away the new street signs for scientific examination, Vardon said “don’t the police have anything better to do? This is getting ridiculous.”
City authorities took a strong line against the incident, which happened on the first day of Ramadan, referring the matter to the public prosecutor. “These scandalous acts … constitute acts of provocation of racial hatred and discrimination,” they said in a statement.
The area has recently been in the spotlight after city authorities tried to prevent a Muslim association, Al Baraka, from buying the building housing the mosque on the rue de Suisse. Al Baraka claims to have been using the site for ten years.
The city has claimed it wants to use the site as part of its regeneration of the area.