The Sacré-Coeur, a 19th century basilica perched atop Montmartre in Paris, was discovered to have been vandalised on Wednesday morning, its doors tagged in red paint with the words “Neither God, nor master, nor state” and “Down with the authorities”.
The marble entrance to the Sacré-Coeur was also defaced with red and black graffiti, which read “F*** tourism” and “Set fire to the chapels”.
One of the French capital’s most famous monuments, the basilica draws millions of visitors each year to its pristine white edifice, stunning domes and sweeping view of the city. The vandalism, which comes just four days ahead of municipal elections in Paris, was swiftly reprehended by the outgoing mayor, Bertrand Delanoë.
“I strongly condemn the graffiti that was sprayed last night on the entrance of the [Sacré-Coeur]. Such defacement, and it’s not the first, is unacceptable,” he said.
Anne Hidalgo, who is Delanoë’s deputy mayor and the Socialist Party’s pick to succeed him after Sunday’s mayoral election, also denounced the act, as did her rival Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, a candidate for the conservative UMP party, who called for a “strong response” to the incident.
French Interior Minister Manuel Valls also weighed in on the issue, labelling the tags “offensive to Catholics as well as severely damaging to a monument emblematic of Paris’s architectural patrimony”.
As Delanoë hinted, this is far from the first time the Sacré-Coeur has been targeted. Anarchists and other far-left activists have regularly expressed their hostility toward the monument, which is widely believed to have been built as a symbolic punishment of supporters of the Paris Commune, a revolutionary, working-class government that rejected the ruling bourgeoisie and governed the city briefly in 1871.
Just a few months ago, Ian Brossat, a leading Communist Party member in Paris, suggested the basilica be closed down and replaced with a “solidarity space”.
Date created : 2014-03-19