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Man Tries to Drive Car Into Crowd In front of French Mosque | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The man tried several times to drive at the worshippers outside the mosque but was prevented by the high pavement and barriers. Photograph: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

A man was arrested after trying to drive a car into a crowd in front of a mosque in the Paris suburb of Creteil, police said, adding that no one was injured.

The man’s motives were unclear, and he had failed in reaching the crowd because of barriers in front of the mosque, police stated.

A regular police department will carry out the investigation, rather than an anti-terrorism unit, to determine if the man could be held accountable for his actions.

According to Le Parisien newspaper, the man said he had wanted to avenge attacks linked to ISIS that have killed dozens in Paris over the past years.

“We saw the car drive three times round the mosque – it was very strange – and suddenly it drove very fast. As far as I could see, it was clearly trying to knock down the pedestrians,” a witness told the newspaper.

A search was conducted Thursday night at the driver’s home, a source close to the investigation said, adding that the suspect had made “confused remarks in relation” to a string of extremist attacks that have struck France, killing 239 people since 2015.

The 43-year-old man will be subject to psychiatric tests, another source close to the investigation said.

According to judicial authorities, he was not under the influence of alcohol.

In a statement, the rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, Dalil Boubakeur, described the incident as a “criminal attack” and an “Islamophobic act”.

“What has just happened in Creteil seems to justify the fears I expressed after the attack close to Finsbury Park Mosque in London,” the head of the National Observatory Against Islamophobia, Abdallah Zekri, told AFP.

He called for “more vigilance on the part of mosque officials”, and called on the authorities to “strengthen protection of places of worship”.