Some 70 protesters climbed atop an unfinished mosque in western France on Saturday to show their opposition to it and to denounce immigration that has brought millions of Muslims into the country and the spread of Sharia law.
The mosque is in the city of Poitiers, where Charles Martell drove away Muslim invaders in 732 AD. The protesters hung a banner on the mosque that read "Generation Identitaire" and demanded a referendum on immigration and mosque construction. The banner also included the number 732.
After police arrived, the protesters left peacefully and three were detained for "incitement of racial hatred" and damage to property.
Muslim leaders, who aren't used to this kind of thing in France, expressed incomprehension over the stunt.
"We are thunderstruck ... these are people who are stuck in the year 732, and who don't see that the world has changed," Poitiers imam El Haj Boubaker told France's BFM-TV. "People can live differently than in a mindset of war and conflict."
France is home to Western Europe's largest population of Muslims, estimated to be at least 5 million, even though the government does not provide official figures.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls denounced a "hateful and inadmissible provocation" by the protesters. Here is video from French TV:
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