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France

French town bans clown costumes after terror wave

© Wikimedia Commons, via Flickr | A man dressed in a clown costume

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-10-31

A wave of panic sparked by pranksters dressing up as evil clowns and terrorising passers-by has spread across France in recent weeks. Now, one town has taken the step of banning anyone from wearing a clown costume, especially on Halloween.

The 6,000-strong village of Vendargues in southern France said the ban would be “absolute” on Friday night, according to a statement posted on the town’s website Tuesday, and will remain in force throughout November for everyone 13 and older.

Those wanting to dress as clowns for “fairs or other public festivities” during this period will need express permission from the authorities to do so.

The law was passed to “avoid any disruption... by evil clowns,” a representative from the mayor’s office told AFP.

“It’s about protecting children by preventing any ill-intentioned clowns from mixing with residents.”

The eerie trend of fake, evil clowns terrifying passers-by has hit several parts of France over recent weeks in what many see as a follow-on from hugely popular YouTube prank videos.

Anti-clown vigilantism

Police have jailed or arrested more than a dozen teenagers after they dressed up as the pranksters and wrought havoc on the streets, at times armed with pistols, knives or baseball bats, sometimes beating people up.

The phenomenon in France has even prompted anti-clown vigilantism, forcing police to step in to try and quell growing hysteria.

The wave of pranks involving terror-inducing clowns began earlier this month in the north of France.

According to police, people increasingly reported spotting clowns “outside schools, but also on public roads, in bushes, in a square”.

Last week, a 19-year-old got a six-month suspended jail term for threatening passers-by while dressed as a clown in the town of Bethune.

And the phenomenon has spread across the country.

Police at the weekend arrested 14 teenagers dressed as clowns and carrying weapons in the Mediterranean port town of Agde.

Not far away in Montpellier – which is very near Vendargues – a fake clown chased a man down a street and beat him with an iron bar, prompting a court to jail him for four months.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)

Date created : 2014-10-31

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