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Hundreds protest in Corsica despite official ban

The police have detained two people over a string of violent rallies in the French island of Corsica, which had seen rioters deface a Muslim prayer hall. The anti-Arab unrest was sparked by an attack on the police.

Some 400 people marched peacefully in the Corsica capital Ajaccio on Sunday, following days of

rioting on the French island.

The violence started after a group of hooded youths attacked police and firefighters in the underpriviliged estate of Jardins de l'Empereur on Christmas Eve. The estate is home to some 1,700 people, half of them of non-French origin.

A firefighter told French television that "about 20 people armed with iron bars (and) baseball bats" attacked the fire engine on Thursday but were unable to break the windows of the vehicle.

The attack set off

anti-Arab rallies

in several working-class districts of Ajaccio, with protesters vandalizing a Muslim prayer hall and burning religious books, including copies of the Koran.

R

Watch video 00:38

Hundreds defied the ban on demonstrations in Corsica on Sunday

ejecting racist motives

On Sunday, the authorities declared a ban on public gatherings in Jardins de l'Empereur, and deployed police to block off the low-income area.

The protesters, however, dodged the ban by marching through other parts of Ajaccio and finishing the event at a street leading to Jardins de l'Empereur.

"We fight against scum, not against Arabs!" chanted the protesters on their way towards the area.

"We aren't thugs, we aren't racists," the crowd shouted as they passed by a police station.

One men in his 20s was arrested on Sunday, while the other showed up at the police station and was taken to custody as part of the probe over the unrest.

dj/rg (AFP, Reuters)

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