A former far-right political candidate who believed a conspiracy theory about the Notre Dame fire tried burning down a French mosque as ‘revenge’

Flames and smoke are seen billowing from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. - A fire broke out at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said.Images posted on social media showed flames and huge clouds of smoke billowing above the roof of the gothic cathedral, the most visited historic monument in Europe.

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Flames and smoke are seen billowing from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. – A fire broke out at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said.Images posted on social media showed flames and huge clouds of smoke billowing above the roof of the gothic cathedral, the most visited historic monument in Europe.
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PATRICK ANIDJAR/AFP/Getty Images

  • Notre-Dame Cathedral was ablaze in April, and investigators identified an electrical short-circuit as a likely origin of the fire.
  • However, a conspiracy theory that the fire was made at the hands of Muslim attackers caught hold with some far-right extremists.
  • Claude Sinké, a former candidate for France’s far-right National Rally party who believed in the theory, has been charged with attempting to set a mosque in Bayonne, France, on fire, and opening shooting two Muslim men who confronted him.
  • He told investigators that the attack was “revenge” for the Notre Dame fire, according to reports.
  • Sinké is charged with arson and attempted murder, though prosecutors did not charge him with terrorism offenses.
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When flames engulfed the iconic Notre Dame cathedral earlier this year, conspiracy theories on how the fire started also ignited, one of which led to a “heinous attack” at a mosque in a French city.

The famous cathedral went ablaze in April, and investigators identified an electrical short-circuit as a likely origin of the fire. However, a conspiracy theory that the fire was made at the hands of Muslim attackers caught hold with some extremists, HuffPost reported.

Claude Sinké, a former candidate for France’s far-right National Rally party who believed in the theory, is alleged to have attempted attempt arson last week. His target: a mosque in Bayonne, France. He also shot two Muslim men who confronted him, HuffPost reported.

Sinké told investigators that the attack he was taking “revenge” for the Notre Dame fire, according to the Independent.

French President Emmanuel Macron condemned Sinké’s crime, calling it a “heinous attack.”

Sinké is charged with arson and attempted murder, though prosecutors did not charge him with terrorism offenses.

“These actions [amount to] a terrorist act because Claude Sinké wanted to kill Muslims for political and ideological reasons,” Méhana Mouhou, the lawyer representing the victims injured from the attack, told HuffPost.

The attack on the Bayonne mosque exemplifies the anti-Muslim climate in the country. In September, an education minister banned Muslim women who wore hijabs from volunteering during school outings. In October, a far-right politician demanded that a Muslim mother remove her headscarf while she was supervising a school trip with her son.