Paris mayor recovering after homophobic stabbing


The mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoe - one of France's few openly gay politicians - is recovering in hospital today after being stabbed in the stomach in an apparently homophobic attack.

Mr Delanoe (52) a Socialist who was elected in March last year, wasgreeting members of the public in the early hours of the morning at areception in the Hotel de Ville (city hall) as part of an all-night festivity organised across the capital.

A man who was among 100 or so people invited into the building suddenly approached the mayor and stabbed him once, officials said.

Mr Delanoe bled profusely and was taken to hospital, but doctors saidhis life was not in danger.

The assailant was quickly overpowered and taken into custody. He was later named as Mr Azedine Berkane, a 39-year-old computer worker with several prior convictions for theft and acts of violence who lives with his parents in a poor suburb north of Paris.

During questioning by police, Mr Berkane told them that "he did not like politicians and in particular he did not like homosexuals," an investigator close to the inquiry said.

Mr Delanoe underwent surgery and a hospital statementlater said the mayor was recovering and that "his stomach woundswere treated successfully." He is expected to stay in hospital forover a week.

French President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Jean-PierreRaffarin sent messages of sympathy. In a statement, the presidentdeclared "his indignation in the face of this senseless deed."