Arsonists desecrated a nativity scene by lighting a baby Jesus on fire in northern France earlier this month.
The attack happened in Illkirch-Graffenstaden, a suburb of Stasbourg, a city near France’s border with Germany.
Firefighters arrived at the scene in the township’s main square around 10 pm in response to three fires lit in the monument to Jesus Christ’s birth.
A fire was set directly underneath Jesus’ crib, near several statues. Authorities believe suspects had broken into the enclosure and that the attack was targeted.
Town Mayor Thibaud Philiips called the incident an “attack (on) our traditions and our values” on Twitter in French.
“(It was a) conscious and perfectly deliberate act. Everything will be done to find the author of this abominable act.”
He told the media that he arrived on the scene quickly after the fire broke out.
“I arrived on the scene quickly. I was able to see, with the police officers from the ferry, three fire starts, one of which was targeted under the child Jesus. The wooden figurines were also targeted. We can also see that the enclosure in which the nativity scene is placed had been forced,” Philipps said.
“I think that these are people who do not respect the traditions anchored here in Alsace. It’s a shame because so far, everything has always gone well. There is a form of harmony that exists on this subject. But these people wanted to attack the symbol of the nativity scene.”
Philipps hopes to file a complaint on behalf of the city. Police will also be looking at surveillance footage of the surrounding area to identify who is responsible.
“I hope they will be heavily punished,” Philipps said. “The sculptures were purchased from a sculptor from Haut-Rhin; they are works of very elaborate art. And beyond that, it is our values and our traditions that are under attack, almost a week before Christmas.”
Carpenters have already begun to restore the nativity scene, and 24-hour security measures have been put into place until the end of Christmas.