Two Jewish cemeteries in the Alsace region of France, close to the German border, were desecrated within hours of one another on 29th December
Police are investigating after 107 graves were desecrated with swastikas and antisemitic slogans in a Jewish cemetery in the town of Westhoffen near Strasbourg. A few hours earlier, similar desecrations were discovered at a Jewish cemetery in the nearby town of Schaffhouse-sur-Zorn.
On a visit to the area, President Emmanuel Macron told community leaders that it was “important” to be with them.
On Twitter, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner denounced the desecrations as “egregious,” and said that everything was being done to ensure that the perpetrators were “caught and dealt with”. In February, more than 90 graves were desecrated at the Quatzenheim Jewish cemetery north-west of Strasbourg.
France has the largest Jewish community in Europe, and official statistics reveal a rise in antisemitic incidents. Security specialists have now been called in to help protect the cemeteries.
In a separate incident, some 60 Christian graves were desecrated with swastikas and “strange” inscriptions at the municipal cemetery in the French city of Fontainebleau, near Paris. According to the Fontainebleau prosecutor’s office, the neighbouring Jewish cemetery was untouched.
Fontainebleau Mayor Frederic Valletoux shared pictures of the desecrations on Twitter and said that, as well as the swastikas, some gravestones had been vandalised with “strange” inscriptions such as “Biobananas” and “Charles”. Biobananas is allegedly a reference to “Shoananas,” an offensive word combining “Shoah” and “pineapple” created by convicted French antisemite Dieudonne. “Charles” is believed to be a reference to French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which was attacked by Islamists in 2015.
On social media, the Deputy Mayor of Paris, Audrey Pulvar described the desecration as “an antisemitic act” that belonged nowhere.