France: Anti-Semitic acts increased by 27% last year

Anti-Semitic acts increased in France by 27% in 2019, says country’s interior minister.

Elad Benari ,

Jewish cemetery vandalized with swastikas in Quatzenheim, in east France
Jewish cemetery vandalized with swastikas in Quatzenheim, in east France

Anti-Semitic acts increased in France by 27% last year, the country’s interior minister said Sunday, according to The Associated Press.

Acts against Muslims inched higher while anti-Christian acts remained stable but highest of all, said Minister Christophe Castaner in a statement.

Acts described as bearing a racist and xenophobic character, mostly threats, more than doubled between 2018 and 2019 — increasing from 496 to 1,142, the statement said.

“Expressions and acts of hate, whether they target origins or religious beliefs, whether they take the form of physical violence or verbal threats, are an intolerable attack on our common project, the foundations of our social … pact,” it added.

To mobilize against forces of hate, and its banalization, the ministry is creating a network of special investigators around France. And it has designated experts on racism and anti-Semitism in gendarmeries and departments, the statement said.

The statistics revealing the “permanence of anti-Semitic hate” take on a particular meaning as the world marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp, noted Castaner.

A total of 687 anti-Semitic acts were counted in 2019, compared to 541 the previous year. The account by the interior ministry showed that 151 of the acts were of the most severe category, “actions,” meaning attacks on people or their possessions, theft or physical acts. There were 536 threats.

The number of anti-Jewish offences reported to police in France surged 74 percent in 2018.

Last month, a Jewish cemetery in Westhoffen, west of Strasbourg in France, was vandalized with swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti.

In March, vandals scrawled anti-Semitic graffiti on a former synagogue in in the town of Mommenheim.

Two days earlier, vandals toppled a monument to a synagogue which was destroyed by the Nazis during World War II.

French President Emmanuel Macron denounced anti-Semitism during a visit to Israel last week, saying it "haunts our present time".