Emmanuel Macron has vowed to tackle anti-Semitism after more than 100 graves at a Jewish cemetery were vandalised and covered in swastikas.
The French president yesterday pledged to fight hate crimes so that ‘our dead can sleep in peace’ after the anti-Semitic graffiti attack in Westhoffen, eastern France.
He tweeted his support of the Jewish community adding that ‘Jews are and make France’, just hours after the discovery of the damaged tombstones.
Today Jewish people and religious leaders were seen surveying the desecrated cemetery as police stood guard at the entrance.
A woman is seen today (above) touching a tomb vandalised with Nazi graffiti in Westhoffen, France, after more than 100 were sprayed with swastikas
Members of the Jewish community surveyed the damage to the cemetery where 107 graves were found vandalised with swastikas and anti-Semitic inscriptions
French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner (second right) looking at vandalised tombs during an inspection if the site today
Armed French policemen standing guard at the Jewish Westhoffen cemetery near Strasbourg after the vandalism of graves
A French police officer standing in front of the entrance of the Jewish cemetery today where graves were desecrated with swastikas in Westhoffen
Macron wrote: ‘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.’
More than 100 graves were covered with swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti in Westhoffen, around 15 miles west of Strasbourg, on Tuesday just hours after similar vandalism in a nearby village.
Maurice Dahan, president of the Jewish consistory for the Bas-Rhin region, said yesterday ‘it’s a shock’, adding that most of the graves were daubed with swastikas.
The government’s regional authority said it was investigating the damage to 107 grave sites.
And about 12 miles away it said anti-Jewish inscriptions were also found in the village of Schaffhouse-sur-Zorn.
Strasbourg chief Rabbi Harold Abraham Weill watches vandalised tombs in the Jewish cemetery of Westhoffen, west of the city of Strasbourg today
French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner (centre) touching a vandalised Jewish tomb in Westhoffen today
President Macron wrote on Twitter: ‘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’
A woman examining the graffiti damage to a grave in Westhoffen as religious leader and government officials visited the site
The government’s regional authority in Westhoffen said it was investigating the damage to 107 grave sites. The damage was seen (above) today
President Macron said those responsible for the vandalism (seen above today) ‘are not worthy of the idea we have of France’
The Alsace region that borders Germany has suffered a rash of racist vandalism over the past year, most notably the desecration of 96 tombs at a cemetery in Quatzenheim in February, which drew nationwide outrage over a spate of anti-Semitic attacks.
President Macron, during a visit to inspect the damage, vowed to crack down on hate speech, including by an increased focus on educating against racism in schools.
The rising number of anti-Jewish offences reported to police – up 74 percent in 2018 from the previous year – have caused alarm in the country that is home to both the biggest Jewish and the biggest Muslim communities in Europe.
It comes on the day a Belgian town forfeited its UN heritage status following ‘Nazi-style’ anti-Semitism after a float depicting Jewish stereotypes was paraded through the town.
The float featured two men with sidelocks and crooked noses wearing streimels, a fur hat favoured by some orthodox Jews, while sitting atop piles of cash.
Two men inspecting the Jewish cemetery in Westhoffen today after 107 tombs were desecrated on Tuesday with Nazi graffiti
President Macron tweeted that ‘anti-Semitism is a crime and we will fight it’ after more than 100 graves were vandalised in Westhoffen, eastern France
The Jewish Westhoffen cemetery near Strasbourg seen today as French president Emmanuel Macron pledge to fight racism
Maurice Dahan, president of the Jewish consistory for the Bas-Rhin region, said yesterday, describing the damage in Westhoffen cemetery: ‘It’s a shock’
It was paraded through Aalst in East Flanders during its annual carnival earlier this year – an event featured since 2010 on the UNESCO list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Amid a wave of criticism, the UN scheduled a vote on December 12 that could have seen the town stripped of the title, but defiant officials decided to give it up instead.
Belgium’s Forum of Jewish Organisations, who likened the parade’s depiction of Jews to that seen in Nazi propaganda, said ‘it seemed like the choice between jumping or being pushed’.