(AFP) Dozens more graves have been vandalised at French cemeteries, the interior ministry said Wednesday, as prosecutors said that the desecration of hundreds of Jewish graves over the weekend in Sarre-Union had a clear “anti-Semitic motive”.
The interior ministry said crucifixes were overturned and gravesites disturbed in Tracy-sur-Mer, a tiny town next to the D-Day landing beaches, as well as in Saint-Beat in southwest France in the latest vandalism.
Swastikas were found in two other towns, the ministry said.
The discoveries came as five teens faced preliminary charges for desecrating hundreds of graves at a Jewish cemetery in the eastern French town of Sarre-Union over the weekend.
State prosecutor Philippe Vannier said Wednesday that there was a clear “anti-Semitic motive” behind the actions of the teens, who have all admitted their participation in the desecration.
“The anti-Semitic connotations and motives of their behaviour are clearly apparent,” Vannier said. “They can be seen in gestures and statements the teenagers made, gestures that included Nazi salutes.”
One of the accused reportedly claimed they were unaware the cemetery was for Jews.
The desecration prompted French President François Hollande to vow that the French state would protect the nation’s Jews “with all its force” as he led a ceremony Tuesday at the Jewish cemetery in Sarres-Union, in the eastern Alsace region.
“I know some are asking if they can live in peace in their country, and ask who will protect them against those who wish them harm,” Hollande said.
“One more time, I want to give the Republic’s response – that it will protect you with all its force.”
There have been no arrests in the other cases.