"I was deeply disturbed to learn of the desecration of 37 graves in the Muslim section of Strasbourg cemetery on 24 September. Sadly, this despicable act is not the only one of its kind. Four Jewish or Muslim cemeteries have been vandalised this year in the greater Strasbourg area alone", the Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner writes in a letter to Hortefeux, French Minister of the Interior, Overseas France and Local Authorities.
As cases of desecration and attacks on places of worship escalate in France, and particularly in Alsace, the Commissioner urged for effective measures to be taken.
"The perpetrators of such offences must never be allowed to feel that they will go unpunished," Hammarberg adds.
In his reply published today, Brice Hortefeux reveals that between January and September, some 485 Jewish and Islamic burial sites had been desecrated in France and 68 people arrested in connection with these offences.
The minister underlines that through its commitment and the allocation of budget resources, the government was "mobilised" against the perpetrators of these "unacceptable" and "deplorable" acts which "insult the whole of France."
Thomas Hammarberg's letter [fr]
Brice Hortefeux's reply [fr]