A 19th century building in northeastern France that once housed a synagogue burned to the ground overnight Sunday/Monday.
Police are examining the circumstances of the fire, which utterly consumed the out-of-use synagogue in the town of Maizières-lès-Vic.
According to news website republican-lorrain, the building was privately owned and has not served as a synagogue in decades. Before burning down, it was being used by a local poultry farmer.
Although police have urged caution, they are not ruling out arson. The officer in charge of the investigation did, however, warn AFP against jumping to conclusions, noting the investigation is still ongoing.
The town's mayor, Alain Guise, believes it is an arson, though. "The synagogue had no electrical feed and it didn’t burn itself down,” he was quoted as saying.
According to Guise, although hardly anyone in the village knew it was an old synagogue, the building, built in 1872, has been classified in the past several years as a historic monument.
France's union of Jewish students, the UEJF, meanwhile, issued a statement condemning any individuals who may be responsible for starting the fire.
“UEJF deplores the destruction of a synagogue that, even though it no longer welcomes worshipers, was a symbol of Jewish presence of almost a thousand years," the statement read.