French police have launched an investigation after Nazi swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti were spray-painted on 107 graves in a Jewish cemetery near Strasbourg.
French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, who visited the cemetery in Westhoffen, eastern France, on Wednesday morning, described the incident as a “heinous act of anti-Semitism.”
“I want to say to those who think they can come here in the middle of the night and tarnish the memory of those who are buried here. Tarnish the memory of our French republic … I want to tell them that we will not leave them alone and our means will be mobilized to follow up and act on this,” he added.
Castaner went on to announce the creation of an “official office to combat hate” and said police had opened an investigation into the incident.
French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the attack in a tweet on Tuesday evening: “Anti-Semitism is a crime and we will fight it, in Westhoffen, and everywhere, until our dead can sleep in peace.”
The Alsace region has suffered a series of anti-Semitic incidents over the past year. Ninety-six graves at a Jewish cemetery were desecrated with swastikas in the French village of Quatzenheim in February.
France, which is home to 500,000 Jews – the largest community in Europe – has seen a 74% increase in anti-Semitic acts, according to French authorities, with 311 incidents recorded in 2017, compared with 541 in 2018.