Second cemetery desecrated in eastern France

3rd May 2004, Comments 0 comments

STRASBOURG, May 2 (AFP) - Vandals daubed pro-Nazi slogans on more than 20 graves at a Christian cemetery in eastern France, officials said Sunday, two days after the desecration of a Jewish cemetery in the same area.

STRASBOURG, May 2 (AFP) - Vandals daubed pro-Nazi slogans on more than 20 graves at a Christian cemetery in eastern France, officials said Sunday, two days after the desecration of a Jewish cemetery in the same area.

Swastikas and the name "Adolf" were scrawled in red paint across grave stones at the cemetery in the village of Niederhaslach near the German border, prosecutors said.

The words "Long Live the FN", a reference to France's far-right National Front (FN) party, were written on a power transformer outside the cemetery, deputy prosecutor Patrick Morisot told AFP.

Morisot said police had not found any link between the incident and the desecration late last week of 127 graves at a Jewish cemetery near the villages of Hattstatt and Herrlisheim, also near the border with Germany.

The Jewish grave stones were marked with swastikas and sayings glorifying Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. On a stone near the cemetery entrance inscribed with a prayer in Hebrew, vandals wrote in German "Juden raus" (Jews out).

The vandalism at the Jewish cemetery provoked indignation across France, and highlighted the country's struggle to stamp out anti-Semitic acts.

Several hundred people - 300 according to police and 600 according to organizers - marched in front of the cemetery Sunday to denounce the incident while Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin met with France's chief rabbi Joseph Sitruk and vowed that everything would be done to arrest those behind the attack.

"The unanimous condemnation of these odious acts is proof of how much they shocked the national conscience," Raffarin said in a statement.

He was to chair a meeting on Monday of an inter-ministerial committee in charge of fighting racism and anti-Semitism and was to hold talks with the head of the French Council for the Muslim Religion.

European authorities and governments have vowed to crack down on increasing anti-Semitic incidents - the subject last week at a Berlin conference by the 55-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Sixty-seven anti-Semitic incidents were reported in France during the first three months of 2004, compared to 42 in the previous quarter, according to figures released Saturday by the interior ministry.

Also Sunday, authorities in the northern city of Amiens said ornaments placed on 34 tombs at a local cemetery had been damaged or moved overnight Friday in what is believed to be a gratuitous act of vandalism.


© AFP

                                                Subject: French news

 

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