Thousands marched in protest of the 74 percent rise in anti-Semitic attacks.

Swastikas were spray painted on approximately 80 graves at a cemetery in Quatzenheim, a village in eastern France. One grave was desecrated with the German words “Elsassisches Schwarzen Wolfe” which translates into English as “Black Alsacian Wolves,” which was a separatist group existing in the 1970s with strong Nazi ties.

This desecration happened hours before a large number of French marched on the streets on February 19 after multiple anti-Semitic attacks in recent months jolted France. The protesters were joined by former presidents of France, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande. Sources reveal a sudden increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2018, numbering 541 registered incidents. The number is a whopping 74 percent rise compared to 311 the previous year.

About 550,000 Jews live in France, making the country the largest population of Jews in Europe.

Jean-Luc Marx, the top official in charge of security in the region, condemned this incident. In his statement, he sent his full support to the Jews living in France and lamented that they were targeted again. Olivier Faure, the Socialist Party's first secretary, asked people to gather in Paris for protests. Similar demonstrations were held in about 60 French cities, including Nantes, Marseille, and Bordeaux.

The last few months saw France suffer from a series of well-publicized anti-Semitic attacks. The second week of February witnessed Nazis defacing the portrait of Simone Veil, former French minister, and Holocaust survivor. Vandals have also scrawled “Jews” on the frontage of a Parisian bakery. They have also cut down a tree which was planted to remember a Jewish young man tortured to death. An anti-Semitic gang perpetrated this horrific crime.

Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, visited the Quatzenheim cemetery on February 19. He said that the perpetrators cannot be regarded as French and will be punished. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, issued a video statement, where he condemned the attack, describing the incident as shocking. He also termed anti-Semitism as a kind of plague which endangers every person. Edouard Philippe, the Prime Minister of France, told a French magazine on February 19 that Paris is now actively considering editing a law to tackle hate speech which floats on social media.

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