Hundreds of graves vandalised at French Jewish cemetery

Interior minister says every effort will be made to bring perpetrators to justice after incident in Sarre-Union.

    Local media said about 200 grave stones were knocked down, and a monument to Holocaust victims damaged [AFP]
    Local media said about 200 grave stones were knocked down, and a monument to Holocaust victims damaged [AFP]

    Several hundred tombs have been vandalised at a Jewish cemetery in the east of France, the country's interior minister said, in what he called "a despicable act".

    "The country will not tolerate this new injury which goes against the values that all French people share," Bernard Cazeneuve said on Sunday without giving further details of the incident in the town of Sarre-Union in the Alsace region.

    "Every effort will be made to identify, question and bring to justice the person or persons responsible for this despicable act," he added.

    Local media reported that about 200 grave stones were knocked down, and a monument to Holocaust victims was damaged.

    French President Francois Hollande also condemned the incident. He said it was an "odious and barbaric act" while Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Twitter that it was "anti-Semitic and ignoble".

    It is not the first time that a Jewish cemetery in Sarre-Union has been targeted.

    In 1988, around 60 Jewish steles, stone or wooden slabs often used for commemorative purposes, were knocked over, and 54 tombs were wrecked in 2001.

    News of the latest incident comes just over a month after four Jews were shot dead in a kosher supermarket siege in Paris and less than 24 hours after a fatal shooting at a synagogue in Copenhagen.

    "I am fed up of all these anti-Semitic acts, in their different forms that we saw on January 9 in France, yesterday in Copenhagen and today in Alsace," said Roger Cukierman, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France.

    France has Europe's largest Jewish population, about half a million. More than 7,000 emigrated to Israel last year.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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