France has the largest number of Muslims in the Western world
DESPARDES News Monitor — French police have smashed a neo-Nazi cell accused of plotting attacks on Muslim or Jewish places of worship, legal sources said Tuesday.
Five members of the group, who were “close in ideology to the neo-Nazi movement” were charged between September and May over the alleged plot, a source close to the investigation said.
“The investigation suggested they were developing an ill-defined plot to carry out an attack, likely to target a place of worship,” the judicial source said.
The sources gave no details of specific targets or motives.
Police in the southeastern city of Grenoble first arrested a man on weapons charges in September 2018. The investigation led them to the four other suspects, two of them minors.
Anti-terrorism investigators took over the investigation in January and charged the suspects with terror offences, including making and transporting explosive devices and being part of a terrorist conspiracy.
A handful of alleged plots involving far-right extremists have made headlines in recent months.
In November, six people were arrested over an alleged plot to attack President Emmanuel Macron.
In July 2017, a 23-year-old was charged with plotting to assassinate the president at France’s Bastille Day military parade.
The man told investigators he wanted to kill Macron along with “Muslims, Jews, blacks and homosexuals,” and three kitchen knives were found in his car.
In June 2018, 13 people with links to the radical Action des Forces Operationnelles (Operational Forces Action) group were arrested by anti-terrorist police over an alleged plot to attack Muslims.
France has the largest number of Muslims in the Western world primarily due to migration from North African and Middle Eastern countries.
Islam is the second-most widely professed religion in France behind Catholic Christianity by number of worshippers.
In the Middle Ages, France was a center of Jewish learning, but persecution increased as the Middle Ages wore on, including multiple expulsions and returns. During the French Revolution in the late 18th century, France was the first country in Europe to emancipate its Jewish population.