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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 June, 2004, 17:37 GMT 18:37 UK
Muslim graves defaced in France
Defaced gravestones, Hagenau, Alsace
A total of 48 gravestones were vandalised
Vandals have daubed swastikas on the graves of Muslim soldiers in a military cemetery in Alsace, eastern France.

Seven gravestones were also smashed in the attack on the cemetery in Hagenau, north of Strasbourg.

The graves were those of Muslim soldiers who died fighting for France in the first and second world wars.

President Jacques Chirac condemned the attack, describing it as "an insult to the memory of the soldiers who gave their lives for our country."

Vandalism spree

Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin also denounced the graffiti, urging people to "rally against hatred."

The desecration of the Muslim graves is the latest in a string of similar incidents in the Alsace region.

About a dozen graffiti attacks have been reported in recent weeks, some aimed at Jewish and Christian sites.

Earlier this month, 60 graves in the Muslim section of a Strasbourg cemetery were defaced.

According to local Islamic leaders, there were seven such attacks on Muslim sites in April alone.

Dalil Boubakeur, leader of France's Council of the Muslim Faith, on Thursday urged the authorities to track down and punish the perpetrators.

He described the latest graffiti attacks as an "unbearable Islamophobic event."

French plea as cemetery defaced
01 Apr 03  |  Europe


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