Jewish graves desecrated in eastern France

29th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

STRASBOURG, France, July 29 (AFP) - Vandals daubed swastikas on more than 30 graves at a Jewish cemetery in eastern France, court officials said Wednesday, as the government struggles to crack down on racist and anti-Semitic crimes.

STRASBOURG, France, July 29 (AFP) - Vandals daubed swastikas on more than 30 graves at a Jewish cemetery in eastern France, court officials said Wednesday, as the government struggles to crack down on racist and anti-Semitic crimes.

Swastikas, Celtic crosses, stars, the number "666" - seen by some as a satanic inscription - and other unidentifiable symbols were scrawled across 32 graves in the Saverne cemetery northwest of Strasbourg, officials said.

In late April, vandals scrawled swastikas and phrases glorifying Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler across more than 120 graves at the Jewish cemetery in Herrlisheim, not far from France's border with Germany.

This month, French President Jacques Chirac called for perpetrators of anti-Semitic, racist and homophobic acts to face tough punishment, and excluded racist crimes from his annual July 14 clemency for prisoners.

The number of racist and anti-Semitic acts committed in France soared in the first half of 2004, according to interior ministry statistics, with 135 physical acts carried out against Jews and 95 against other ethnic groups.

Meanwhile, three people were arrested Wednesday for desecrating a Jewish memorial at Douaumont in eastern France in May, Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin said.

Two suspects, including a minor, were kept in custody and a third released. Neo-Nazis slogans and swastikas were found painted on the memorial.

De Villepin also said Wednesday he condemned with the utmost severity the desecration of the Saverne cemetery.

The minister expressed "solidarity with the Jewish community affected by this new act of vandalism."

The chief regional government officer of the area had gone personally to the scene and the gendarmerie had launched an enquiry to find the culprits.

Villepin called on all police officers on the case "to pursue their task until the perpetrators of this ignoble act are found and brought to justice."

Jewish youth movement Hachomer Hatzair said in a statement issued late Wednesday the desecrations were "intolerable and unqualifiable acts" which were of great concern to young Jewish people.

Anti-Semitic acts should be fought relentlessly, the group said, adding that education by state authorities was "the only door out of the crisis our country is going through".

"Racism and anti-Semitism must be eradicated from our land," it added.

 

© AFP

Subject: French news

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