PARIS (AP) — The Latest on events condemning anti-Semitism in France(all times local):
A crowd of thousands have gathered on Paris’ famed Republic Plaza to say “No” to anti-Semitism following a rise in acts targeting the country’s Jewish community.
Dozens of rallies took place Tuesday evening in French cities as organizations from across France’s political spectrum united under a common motto: “That’s enough.”
The main gathering, in the French capital, took place with former Presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and many government officials.
Paris residents and officials together sang the national anthem, the Marseillaise.
Israel’s prime minister is urging European leaders to speak out against anti-Semitism after what he called the “shocking vandalism” of Jewish graves in France.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement released by his office on Tuesday that “Eighty Jewish graves were desecrated with Nazi symbols by wild anti-Semites.”
Netanyahu called on the leaders of France and Europe needed to take a strong stand against anti-Semitism, which he called “a plague that endangers everyone, not just us.”
He continued: “It must be condemned wherever and whenever it rears its head.”
A Jewish cemetery in a small French town where vandals defaced gravestones has become another example of the anti-Semitic acts that are the subject of nationwide protest marches.
Swastikas were spray-painted overnight on about 80 gravestones at the cemetery in Quatzenheim, a small Alsace town.
Just hours ahead of the marches in Paris and other cities, French President Emmanuel Macron visited the cemetery and said he felt shame at the sight of the defaced gravestones.
He called the vandalism “absurd stupidity” and promised local Jewish community representatives the French government “will take action.”
Marches and gatherings against anti-Semitism are taking place across France following a series of shocking anti-Semitic acts.
Answering a call from political parties, thousands of protesters and several government members are expected to take to the streets Tuesday.
The upsurge in anti-Semitism in France reached a climax last weekend with a torrent of hate speech directed at prominent philosopher Alain Finkielkraut during a march of yellow vest protesters.
The assault came days after the government reported a huge rise in incidents of anti-Semitism last year.
In other incidents this month, swastika graffiti was found on street portraits of Holocaust survivor Simone Veil, the word “Juden” was painted on a bagel restaurant and trees planted at a memorial honoring a young Jewish man tortured to death in 2006 were vandalized.
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