By Ruth Gledhill
Riot police have forcefully removed worshippers from a church in Paris who were protesting against the demolition of the building to make way for social housing and parking.
Dramatic footage emerged on social media under the hashtage #SainteRita after the eviction, which took place one day after the funeral of the murdered priest Father Jacques Hamel.
Police used 12 squad cars and officers in full riot gear for the eviction, in the 15th arrondissement or administrative district of Paris.
The worshippers were staging a sit-in protest while the priest, who was saying an early morning Mass, was dragged along the floor.
RT reported that it was “heavy-handed to say the least”.
The church was originally scheduled for demolition last year and the building permit for the new development was obtained as long ago as 2012.
It is named after Saint Rita of Casica, canonised by Pope Leo XIII in 1900 as “Patroness of Impossible Causes”.
The parishioners were unable to raise the large sums needed to save the church for their continued use.
Among those who comment was Marine le Pen, president of the conservative National Front, who asked in a tweet what would happen if parking provision was created on the site of a Salafist mosque rather than by destroying a church: