Dozens of Jewish graves vandalised at cemetery in eastern France
Dozens of Jewish graves vandalised at cemetery in eastern France
AFP Patrick Hertzog
06 December, 2019, 16:09
The incident occurred overnight on Tuesday in the town of Westhoffen, some 25 kilometers (15 miles) west of Strasbourg, in the northeast region of Alsace.
Bigger than 100 graves have been covered with swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti at a Jewish cemetery in eastern France, honest hours after same vandalism in a shut-by village.
When police arrived to the graveyard, swastikas and the No. 14 - a symbol used by white supremacists - were sprayed on 107 graves, according to a press release issued by a spokesperson for the Lower-Rhine region.
"We are here and we will stay here for a long time", he said.
Despite that figure, anti-Semitic attacks across the country are common and have increased over the a year ago, with 541 attacks happening in 2018 alone - a 74 per cent increase from 311 in 2017 according to statistics released by the government of France.
France, which is home to 500,000 Jews - the largest community in Europe - has seen a 74% increase in anti-Semitic acts, according to French authorities, with 311 incidents recorded in 2017, compared with 541 in 2018.
Following the discovery of anti-Semitic graffiti in a Jewish cemetery in eastern France, the French government is setting up a national anti-hate crime office.
Calling the incident a "heinous act of anti-Semitism", the French Interior Minister said, "Our means will be mobilized to follow up and act on this". "Those who attack them, even in their graves, are not worthy of the idea we have of France".
The interior minister added that the anti-hate crime office would have "intelligence" and "prevention" capabilities, as well as the power to investigate what he described as "recurrent violations of freedom of thought, religious or philosophical".
France's Alsace region, which lies on the northeastern border with Germany, has been the subject of a string of anti-Semitic attacks over the last several months.
In February, 96 Jewish graves in Quatzenheim, just over 10 kilometres away from Westhoffen, were desecrated.
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