France is to open a national bureau to lead the fight against hate crimes after 107 graves were desecrated at a Jewish cemetery in the northeast of the country, the interior minister said on Wednesday. The daubing of swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti on the graves at the cemetery in Westhoffen around 25 kilometres (15 miles) west of Strasbourg in the Alsace region was the latest racist attack to shock the country. The office, which would be part of France's gendarmerie, will be charged with investigating this crime but also all anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and anti-Christian acts, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said at the scene. "The Republic itself has been desecrated," Castaner said after visiting the cemetery, which dates from the 16th century. The Alsace region has suffered a rash of racist vandalism over the past year, most notably the desecration of 96 tombs at a cemetery in Quatzenheim in February, which sparked nationwide outrage. The rising number of anti-Jewish .
The French government is creating a national anti-hate crime office following the discovery of anti-Semitic graffiti at a Jewish cemetery in eastern France. Interior Minister Christophe Castaner made the announcement Wednesday in the town of Westhoffen, where vandals scrawled swastikas and other anti-Semitic inscriptions on 107 tombs the day before. Speaking alongside Jewish leaders, Castaner condemned the graffiti as a sign that "hate is on our national territory." "We must respect the right to believe," he said. A special police unit has begun investigating the incident, Castaner said, and the new national office will seek to fight hate crimes. The graffiti marked the latest in a string of anti-Semitic acts in the Bas-Rhin region. Anti-Semitic graffiti was also discovered Tuesday in the eastern French village of Schaffhouse-sur-Zorn, authorities said.