More Than 100 Jewish Graves Defaced With Swastikas In French Cemetery
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More than 100 graves at a Jewish cemetery in France have been spray-painted with swastikas, as part of a swathe of anti-Semitic attacks in the country.
French police have launched an investigation after 107 gravestones in Westhoffen, near Strasbourg, were defaced by vandals.
The act has been condemned by French President Emmanuel Macron, who tweeted on Tuesday evening: "Jews are and make France. Those who attack them, even in their graves, are not worthy of the idea we have of France.
"Anti-Semitism is a crime and we will fight it, in Westhoffen as everywhere, until our dead can sleep in peace."
Les Juifs sont et font la France. Ceux qui s'attaquent à eux, jusque dans leurs tombes, ne sont pas dignes de l'idée que nous avons de la France. L'antisémitisme est un crime et nous le combattrons, à Westhoffen comme partout, jusqu'à ce que nos morts puissent dormir en paix.
- Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) December 3, 2019
French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner - who visited the cemetery on Wednesday morning - also blasted the 'heinous act of anti-Semitism', announcing plans to open a new national office to fight hate crimes.
He said: "I want to say to those who think they can come here in the middle of the night and tarnish the memory of those who are buried here.
"Tarnish the memory of our French republic ... I want to tell them that we will not leave them alone and our means will be mobilized to follow up and act on this."
With 500,000 Jews, France is home to the largest community of Jewish people in Europe. However over the past few years, the country has seen a disturbing 74 percent rise in anti-Semitic attacks, with authorities saying there were 541 incidents recorded last year, compared with 311 incidents in 2017.
According to CNN, the Alsace region has suffered a series of anti-Semitic incidents over the past year, with 96 graves having been desecrated with swastikas in a village called Quatzenheim back in February.
Last week, anti-Semitic symbols were also placed on the walls of the town hall in Rohr, which is not far from Westhoffen, while another town hall in the Bas-Rhin area was subjected to an attack in April.
Chief Rabbi Haïm Korsia, said he was 'outraged and horrified to learn of the desecration of yet another cemetery in Alsace'.