A French nun was seen tackling an environmental protester outside the construction of a new religious center in what quickly became a viral video online.
On Saturday, members of the ecogroup Les Amis de la Bourges, which translates to Friends of the Village, attempted to protest the construction of a new religious complex in Saint-Pierre-de-Colombier. The construction was surrounded by a group of nuns from the Missionary Family of Notre-Dame forming a human chain around the neighborhood to stop the activists.
The altercations reportedly began early in the morning, leading one of the sisters to tackle a protester who was running with what appeared to be construction materials to the ground while other protesters stomped on the piping materials.
“I didn’t expect that,” declared on France 3 the co-president of the association for the future of the Bourges valley, Sylvain Hérenguel. “I expected the nuns to be a little reasonable for public order. The problem is that “The nuns decided to resort to violence. I was attacked three times by five people, who kidnapped me, who wanted to throw me there. They decided to protect the site with their actions and their bodies.”
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After the confrontation, the nuns returned to a more peaceful stance, chanting while blocking surrounding protesters. Around ten police officers were also on site.
According to the environmental group, the construction threatens several rare plant species that are not properly protected.
“There is jackfruit mignonette noted by the French Biodiversity Office. And it is not in the environmental study on which the prefect relied to relaunch the project. They do not have the authorization to destroy the habitats of protected species,” added Hérenguel.
Construction of the project began in December 2018 with plans to build a basilica that could accommodate 3,500 people. Since then, the construction has faced significant backlash from environmental organizations, including several protests halting the process.
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In June 2020, activists set up a zone to defend (ZAD) around the area, which ultimately led to construction stopping in October of the same year. However, construction resumed in 2022 following additional environmental studies of the area.
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The Missionary Family of Notre-Dame and the Friends of Bourges did not immediately respond to comment.
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