Teenagers held after hundreds of gravestones vandalised in France


Five people aged 15-17 have been taken into custody in eastern France over the vandalism of hundreds of Jewish graves.

The youngest came forward after seeing the outrage over the attack, in which more than 300 tombstones in the town of Sarre-Union were desecrated.

France’s interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, called the vandalism “a despicable act”. He added: “The country will not tolerate this new injury which goes against the values that all French people share.

“Every effort will be made to identify, question and bring to justice the person or persons responsible for this ignominious act.”

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the attack, which took place over the weekend, was “an antisemitic and ignoble act”.

It is not the first time that the Jewish cemetery in the town has been targeted. In 2001, 54 graves were vandalised.

Also last weekend, French police arrested a Muslim teenager for emailing death threats to two Jewish leaders.

The 19-year-old, reportedly known only as “Amin”, sent videos of the beheadings of Islamic State hostages to Israel’s consul-general in Marseille, Barnea Hasid, and a Jewish member of France’s parliament, Meir Habib.
He threatened them with “a similar fate” to the murders in the videos.

After a three-day interrogation by police, he was ordered to remain under house arrest until the start of his trial on April 2.

His family said he was confused and had recently been reading material on Islamic Jihad.

Meanwhile, in Paris, an Israeli journalist documented 10 hours of antisemitic abuse, hurled at him as he walked around the city wearing a kippah.

A video shows bystanders hurling insults and threats in his direction. Zvika Klein, a reporter for the news website, said he wanted to test attitudes to Jews in the city.

Mr Klein told JTA that when he was walking through the suburb of Sarcelles, home to a large Muslim population, he received more abuse than wandering through Paris’ centre.

The video, filmed secretly by a colleague wearing a backpack fitted with a rear-pointing recorder, shows Mr Klein being sworn at and subjected to racist and homophobic abuse.

The video comes just over a month after a gunman shot dead four Jews in a supermarket siege in Paris.

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