SHARE
COPY LINK

ANTI-SEMITISM

Anti-Semitism in France: 80 graves vandalised at Jewish cemetery

Swastikas and anti-Semitic tags were found daubed over 80 gravestones at a Jewish cemetery in eastern France on Tuesday on the day of nationwide marches against a rise in anti-Semitic attacks.

Anti-Semitism in France: 80 graves vandalised at Jewish cemetery
Illustration photo: AFP. Jewish headstones at a cemetery in Herrlisheim tagged with swastika symbols on December 10, 2018.

The damage was discovered on Tuesday morning at a cemetery in the village of Quatzenheim, close to the border with Germany in the Alsace region, a statement from the regional security office said.

It's just the latest shocking incident of anti-Semitism in France.

According to authorities around 80 graves in total were vandalised with anti-Semitic graffiti and swastika symbols.

Photos show the Nazi symbols in blue spray-painted on the damaged graves, one of which bears the words “Elsassisches Schwarzen Wolfe” (“Black Alsacian Wolves), a separatist group with links to neo-Nazis in the 1970s.

The top security official for the region, Jean-Luc Marx, condemned “in the strongest possible terms this awful anti-Semitic act and sends his complete support to the Jewish community which has been targeted again,” the statement added.

President Emmanuel Macron will travel to the cemetery to inspect the damage Tuesday, before visiting the Paris Holocaust memorial, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told RTL radio.

Local MP Sylvain Waserman said he was left “disgusted” and “furious” after hearing of the vandalism.

The incident comes on the day mass rallies are planned in Paris and other French cities Tuesday to denounce a flare-up of anti-Semitic acts.

“This is the response to the national wake-up call we urged last week,” said Francis Kalifat of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish organisations.

He was referring to a spate of anti-Jewish vandalism and graffiti discovered in and around Paris in the days following another Saturday of yellow vest protests.

 

Graffiti on the headquarters of French daily Le Monde used anti-Semitic tropes to refer to Macron's former job as a Rothschild investment banker.

In another incident, the words “Macron Jews' Bitch” was written in English across a garage door in the city centre, and the phrase “Jewish pig” was sprayed onto a wall in the northern 18th arrondissement.

But the rise in anti-Semitic acts in France predates the yellow vest movement.

Last year, police recorded a 74 percent surge in reported anti-Jewish offences, causing alarm in a country that is home to the biggest Jewish population in Europe.

The government has tried to walk a fine line in condemning the recent surge in anti-Semitism while not criticising what it calls the protesters' legitimate complaints.

READ ALSO: It's a national wake-up call: French to march against anti-Semitism

'National wake-up call': French to march against anti-Semitism

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

COURT

French court orders Twitter to reveal anti-hate speech efforts

A French court has ordered Twitter to give activists full access to all its documents relating to efforts to combat racism, sexism and other forms of hate speech on the social network.

French court orders Twitter to reveal anti-hate speech efforts
Photo: Alastair Pike | AFP

Six anti-discrimination groups had taken Twitter to court in France last year, accusing the US social media giant of “long-term and persistent” failures in blocking hateful comments from the site.

The Paris court ordered Twitter to grant the campaign groups full access to all documents relating to the company’s efforts to combat hate speech since May 2020. The ruling applies to Twitter’s global operation, not just France.

Twitter must hand over “all administrative, contractual, technical or commercial documents” detailing the resources it has assigned to fighting homophobic, racist and sexist discourse on the site, as well as “condoning crimes against humanity”.

The San Francisco-based company was given two months to comply with the ruling, which also said it must reveal how many moderators it employs in France to examine posts flagged as hateful, and data on the posts they process.

The ruling was welcomed by the Union of French Jewish Students (UEJF), one of the groups that had taken the social media giant to court.

“Twitter will finally have to take responsibility, stop equivocating and put ethics before profit and international expansion,” the UEJF said in a statement on its website.

Twitter’s hateful conduct policy bans users from promoting violence, or threatening or attacking people based on their race, religion, gender identity or disability, among other forms of discrimination.

Like other social media businesses it allows users to report posts they believe are hateful, and employs moderators to vet the content.

But anti-discrimination groups have long complained that holes in the policy allow hateful comments to stay online in many cases.

French prosecutors on Tuesday said they have opened an investigation into a wave of racist comments posted on Twitter aimed at members of the country’s national football team.

The comments, notably targeting Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, were posted after France was eliminated from the Euro 2020 tournament last week.

France has also been having a wider public debate over how to balance the right to free speech with preventing hate speech, in the wake of the controversial case of a teenager known as Mila.

The 18-year-old sparked a furore last year when her videos, criticising Islam in vulgar terms, went viral on social media.

Thirteen people are on trial accused of subjecting her to such vicious harassment that she was forced to leave school and was placed under police protection.

While President Emmanuel Macron is among those who have defended her right to blaspheme, left-wing critics say her original remarks amounted to hate speech against Muslims.

SHOW COMMENTS