Villagers protest against order to silence church bells

Church tower in Asswiller, Bas-Rhin with some surrounding buildings. Bright day
Asswiller church tower was the scene of protests over an order to silence the bells during the night

Police erect barriers to protect houses of residents who complained about bells ringing through the night

PLANS to silence church bells in a French village during the night sparked a large demonstration with more than 250 people gathering in front of the church demanding they be allowed to ring out loud.

Residents in the little Alsace village of Asswiller in Bas-Rhin were complaining about a court decision in Strasbourg upholding a petition from two couples who live beside the church tower and who said they were continually being disturbed at night.

Led by another church neighbour, Isabelle Eristoff, a petition was started against the plan and quickly gained signatures before the protest was organised with residents and others from surrounding areas saying they wanted to protect Alsace heritage.

Waving placards, tricolores and the red and white Alsace flag, the protesters marched from the Protestant church through the village. Police had erected barriers to protect the houses of the couples who had complained.

The Strasbourg administrative court had finally ruled on a case that had first been started in 2009. It ordered that Asswiller’s mayor silence the bells between 22.00 and 7.00 and the mayor was on the protest march along with other elected officials from nearby communes.

During the protest people told TV reporters that the bells were part of village life and they should be “allowed to ring, just like the cockerels first thing in the morning and dogs to bark”. 

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