In the wake of more than a 100 Jewish graves being desecrated with swastikas in eastern France, the country’s interior minister, Christophe Castaner, announced the creation of an office tackling hate crimes.
“The office will coordinate both police and judicial work to hold those responsible for antisemitic, Islamophobic, and anti-Christian hate crimes,” said Castaner, who added that France’s authorities will step up its efforts to fight antisemitism.
The hate crime incident in Westhoffen near the Franco-German border, occurred a few hours before France adopted a non-binding resolution modelled on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, which equates anti-Israeli actions with hate crimes against Jews.
The incident in Westhoffen was the second of its kind this year. In February, 96 Jewish graves in Quatzenheim, a small city just 10 kilometres from Westhoffen, were also desecrated.
France’s Jewish population is the largest in the EU. It also has the largest Muslim in Europe and the number of anti-Semitic hate crimes that have occurred across the country in recent years has increased dramatically. In 2017 and 2018, alone, the number of incidents that targeted Jews saw a shocking 74% rise, according to police reports.
French President Emmanuel Macron has condemned the spike in anti-Semitism saying, “Jews are and make France. Those who attack them, even their graves, are not worthy of the idea that we have of what France is.”