Islamophobia: Vandals desecrate Muslim graves
Some 20 graves were found vandalized on Sunday morning in the Muslim part of a cemetery at Vitry-sur-Seine, 7.5km southeast of the French capital.
The graves were desecrated, marble headstones broken, and religious ornaments were strewn across the area, according to French media reports, though there appeared to have be no graffiti left at the scene.
“I condemn the cowardice of these individuals who attack cemeteries, and dead people,” Abdellah Zekri, president of the Observatory against Islamophobia, was quoted as saying by France 3 TV.
“We demand that the authorities step in, in the midst of this unhealthy environment,” he added.
French police have opened an investigation into the vandalism, and its motivations.
However, Sami Debah, president of the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) told The Local that “in this general atmosphere of growing Islamophobia, we can say with confidence that Islamophobia is what inspired the desecration.”
Debah was encouraged that, already, local community groups in Vitry-sur-Seine, both Muslim and non-Muslim, had organized a rally against such incidents, to take place on May 4th, but lamented the recent spate of anti-Muslim attacks in the Ile-de-France region, which surrounds Paris.
For his part, Zekri told media on Sunday that there had been a 25 percent increase in Islamophobic incidents in the first half of 2013, with 50 reported so far this year, compared to 40 for the first six months of 2012.
Just two weeks ago, The Local reported how vandals had left a pig’s head and sprayed swastikas on the site of a planned mosque near Paris.
In February, vandals once again daubed swastikas in front of a mosque, also in the Paris region.
The same month, Debah told The Local that Islamophobia was becoming trivialised in French society.
“It’s concerning to see views in France in 2013 that are the same as those that were held in the Middle Ages,” he said.