1 Christian, 2 Jewish cemeteries vandalized in France

Story highlights

  • Ministry: Headstones were damaged in a small Christian cemetery in Saint-Beat
  • Swastikas were scrawled inside two Jewish cemeteries

(CNN)Three more cemeteries have been vandalized in France, at a time of heightened sensitivity over religion and terrorist threats.

The Interior Ministry announced Wednesday that overnight, headstones were damaged in a small Christian cemetery in Saint-Beat in southern France and swastikas were scrawled in Jewish cemeteries in Challans, in the west, and Issoudun, in central France.
    Those three incidents are in addition to the defacing of tombstones in western France's Tracy-sur-Mer and the desecration of about 250 graves late last week in a Jewish cemetery in Sarre-Union.
    Authorities took five teenagers -- one of whom turned himself in and none of whom have criminal records -- into custody in that incident and charged them with desecration of graves and with organized damage on property for the public benefit, Saverne prosecutor Philippe Vanier said Monday. One of the teens denied the attack was anti-Semitic, claiming they'd thought the cemetery was abandoned and didn't notice the graves were Jewish until after the vandalism began, according to the prosecutor.
    Jewish graves vandalized with Nazi graffiti
    newday jewish graves desecated france_00003721

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    Whatever the motive, the Sarre-Union vandalism spurred strong condemnations from French officials, with Prime Minister Manuel Valls calling it "a vile, anti-Semitic act" and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve vowing, "The French Republic won't allow another act against our values."
    The incidents come at a time when Jews in France have become targets, most glaringly with last month's deadly hostage siege at a kosher supermarket in Paris. It's not just France, though, as the recent shooting near a synagogue in Copenhagen, Denmark, illustrates.
    This all comes amid a push by groups like ISIS for its twisted version of Islam and against any nonbelievers, with Jews and Christians being singled out as targets.
    Muslims have also come under fire. After the Paris attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and kosher market siege, numerous mosques in France were attacked -- with shots fired in some cases and other instances in which a pig's head was stuck on a prayer room door and messages of hate were sprayed on walls, according to French media reports.