As French mayors are targeted in violent attacks, many feel abandoned

·1-min read
© Fred Tanneau, AFP

Less than two months after losing his home in an arson attack, the mayor of a town in western France resigned this week, citing, among other things, a “lack of support from the state”. Amid an increasingly tense political environment, attacks against mayors in France are multiplying. And some say they have been left to fend for themselves.

At the break of dawn on March 22, Mayor Yannick Morez of Saint-Brevin-les-Pins in western France woke up to find his house in flames.

“We could have died,” Morez wrote in the resignation letter he submitted on Tuesday. Neither he nor his family were injured, but the fire destroyed his home and two cars parked outside. The fire was a deliberate, targeted attack.

Almost two months later, the case is still being investigated. But Morez has already decided to seek a fresh start, with plans to leave the town he has called home for 32 years by the end of June.

President Emmanuel Macron expressed his solidarity with the mayor in a tweet a day after his resignation, calling the attacks “disgraceful”.

A former doctor, Morez had been mayor of Saint-Brevin, home to about 14,000 inhabitants, since 2017. In the months before the attack, the town had been wracked by right-wing protests against plans to move a local asylum accommodation centre close to a primary school.

“It’s true that people nationwide only found out the mayor was facing threats after he quit,” Cautrès said.

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