Some 300 tombs defaced at French Jewish cemetery

Frederick Florin, AFP | Defaced tombstone at the Jewish cemetery of Sarre-Union, northeastern France

Several hundred tombs have been defaced at a Jewish cemetery in the eastern region of Alsace, France's Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Sunday, calling the move "a despicable act".


"The country will not tolerate this new injury which goes against the values that all French people share," said Cazeneuve.

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

Five adolescents between the ages of 15 and 17 have been detained for questioning over the vandalism, a local prosecutor said Monday. All five are from the region of Sarre-Union in Alsace, where the estimated 300 tombs were defaced.

The youngest suspect came forward after being shocked by the massive reaction across the country to the vandalism, the prosecutor said.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, writing on Twitter, condemned the desecration, calling it "an anti-Semitic and ignoble act".

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 while in 2001 another 54 tombs were destroyed.

News of the latest incident comes just over a month after an Islamist gunman took hostages and shot dead four Jewish people at a kosher supermarket in Paris.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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