PARIS -- Two pig heads were found hanging at the entrance of a mosque in southern France on Wednesday, in the latest incident of what Muslim leaders say is rising Islamophobia in the country.
The mayor of Montauban denounced what she described as intimidation of Muslims after the heads were discovered in the early morning attached to two pillars at the entrance of the Salam Mosque, a huge pool of blood on the ground. Pigs are considered unclean by Muslims, who are forbidden from eating pork.
Brigitte Bareges condemned "this odious and blasphemous act toward the Muslim community."
Police have opened an investigation. Muslim leaders said the vandalism was especially shocking because it happened during the holy month of Ramadan.
"This was meant to dirty this place of prayer," said Abdallah Zekri, a regional Muslim leader based in Nimes. He said by telephone that he has a "sense of disgust."
It was the first such incident in Montauban, near the city of Toulouse. In 2009, pig feet were hung on a mosque in Castres, also in southern France, and a Nazi swastika was painted on its walls along with racist and nationalist slogans.
The discovery of the pig heads came a day after officials in the northern Paris suburb of Gennevilliers reinstated four summer camp counselors who had been suspended for Ramadan fasting. After an outcry, the town decided that during the month of August it would not apply a clause in the labor contract requiring summer camp counselors to be fully fed and hydrated, a statement said.