It is not the first incident of its kind in Alsace: unknown people have desecrated graves in a Jewish cemetery in the region. On 107 graves of the cemetery Westhoffen, about 25 kilometers from Strasbourg, anti-Semitic inscriptions have been found, said the French prefecture of Bas-Rhin on Tuesday. Also on the Jewish cemetery of the municipality Schaffhouse-sur-Zorn on Tuesday morning anti-Semitic graffiti had been discovered. How many graves were affected there was not known at first.
The prefect of the Grand Est region on the border with Germany, Jean-Luc Marx, condemned the desecration of the graves and gave his support to the Jewish community. The cowardly acts of hate should not put the coexistence of society in question, it said in a statement of the prefecture. The wave of anti-Semitic, racist and anti-immigrant acts that the region has encountered in recent months must be combated.
The "abominable deeds" are an insult to the values of the Republic, wrote Interior Minister Christophe Castaner on Twitter. Everything was done so that they did not go unpunished. The police are on duty to find the perpetrators, Castaner said.
The new graffiti line up in a series of anti-Semitic incidents in Alsace, which had already caused a stir in France earlier this year. At the Jewish cemetery in Quatzenheim, northwest of Strasbourg, unknown persons had desecrated around 80 graves with swastika graffiti in February. Head of state Emmanuel Macron visited the small community after the incident.
In March, the entrance portal and a side wall of a former synagogue in the community Mommenheim was also discovered painted with swastikas. The incidents triggered a debate over increasing anti-Semitism in France. In 2015, several hundred Jewish graves had also been desecrated in Alsace.