January 19, 2020

France Will Create Hate Crimes Office After Desecration of Jewish Cemetery

French police stand guard at the Westhoffen Jewish cemetery's entrance near Strasbourg, eastern France, Dec. 3, 2019, after 107 graves were found vandalized with swastikas and anti-Semitic inscriptions. (Patrick Hertzog/AFP via Getty Images)

(JTA) — The French government said it will establish a hate crimes office in the wake of the vandalization of more than 100 gravestones at a Jewish cemetery.

The vandalism, which included anti-Semitic imagery and text, was discovered Tuesday at the Jewish cemetery of Westhoffen near Strasbourg in eastern France, the AFP news agency reported.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner announced a plan to open the new national office to fight hate crimes the following day.

Castaner condemned the graffiti as a sign that “hate is on our national territory,” adding: “We must respect the right to believe.”

The office, which would be part of the gendarmerie, France’s military police, will be charged with investigating all anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and anti-Christian acts, Castaner said.

“Jews are and make France,” French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted after the attack. “Those who attack them, even 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,” Macron wrote.