Muslim graves at Christchurch Cemetery, Newport, desecrated by racist vandals
By Emma Mackintosh, South Wales Argus, June 30th, 2013
MUSLIM graves at a Newport cemetery have been desecrated with racist graffiti.
The vandals used white paint to write “Lee Rigby murder”, “white power” and drew swastikas on four gravestones at Christchurch Cemetery.
They also wrote the initials of the British National Party (BNP), the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and the National Front (NF).
People visiting nearby graves spoke of their disgust and shock at seeing the painted messages, which were still wet this morning.
Julie Thomas and her 89-year-old aunt Elfriede Robinson were visiting the grave of Mrs Robinson’s husband George nearby.
“I think it’s absolutely disgusting,” said Mrs Thomas, 51, who lives in Christchurch.
“These people are dead and gone now, what is the point? It is the ultimate disrespect. What’s next? My aunt is quite upset by the swastikas, she is German and has lived here for 60 years.”
Paul Burgoyne, 47, his wife Jill, 45, and their 19-year-old daughter Deanna, who were visiting his father Melville’s grave, said cemeteries are neutral places.
“Political views should stay outside cemeteries because the dead can’t answer,” said Mr Burgoyne. “This is consecrated ground. You can only see a name on a grave and what’s in a name, you don’t know their backgrounds.”
Mrs Burgoyne said: “My husband has French and Irish ancestry, what if they take a dislike to French people? How upset would we be if someone had done that to us?”
Marc Collins, his mother Kay and his three-year-old son Olly were on their way to place flowers on the grave of his father Keith Collins when they drove past the vandalised headstones.
“It is absolutely disgusting and appalling, and we don’t agree with it or condone it,” said Mrs Collins, 64. “If the relatives were here I would go up and apologise.”
Mr Collins, 35, said: “We come here every week and usually there are people at those graves at the same time as us. If it happened to us we would be very angry and upset, and we feel ashamed.”
Paul Hemmings, 46, who had driven more than 200 miles from London with his wife to visit his father’s grave, said he had never been so angry after seeing the messages.
“I am embarrassed to be white and to be British,” said Mr Hemmings, who is originally from Newport. “These moronic buffoons ought to be ashamed of themselves. What has religion got to do with absolutely anything? Islamaphobia has gone far too far, you can’t be Christian if you are doing this.”
The group of 15 newly dug graves are in a separate area of the western side of Christchurch Cemetery.
Superintendent of Newport cemeteries, Charles Dare, said there are six Muslim plots in St Woolos cemeteries and apart from an incident 20 years ago when the headstones were pushed over, nothing like this has happened before.
Newport council’s graffiti team were trying to remove the messages when Gwent Police arrived at the scene, around noon yesterday.
A police spokesman said: “We are working with the council to get the graffiti removed and contacting the relatives of the graves that have been affected.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Gwent Police on 101