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What we know about the ten defaced Jewish steles in the Oise

Investigators will take in-depth samples in this Moulin-sous-Touvent military cemetery in order to be able to identify the perpetrators. Nothing allows, for the moment, to make a link between this damage and the war between Israel and Hamas.

Ten Jewish steles were discovered defaced on Wednesday, November 16, in the German military cemetery of Moulin-sous-Touvent, near Compiègne, in the Oise department, in Hauts-de-France. Here is what we know about the first elements of the investigation.

Stelae lying or broken, no tags

The damage was noted on Wednesday November 15 by maintenance workers who came to work. With a first certainty: the events took place between November 11 and Wednesday. Indeed, an Armistice commemoration ceremony took place on Saturday and no damage was noted. In total, ten Jewish steles were defaced in this military cemetery, which includes 1,903 Christian and Jewish graves of German soldiers who fought during the First World War.

According to the gendarmerie contacted by franceinfo, the steles were broken or found lying down. “Everything was on the ground, broken, really destroyed, we even had a stele that was moveddescribes the mayor of the town, Anne Brocvielle. There, we really see the cruelty, the wickedness and the disrespect. Because moving a stele altogether, to tell you they are still well sealed, and tapping to cut them in two, that is not possible.”

There are no tags on it, so nothing that can allow, for the moment, investigators to identify the perpetrators or their motivation: nothing allows a link to be made between this damage and the war in the Middle East .

An investigation opened for “violation of graves due to religion”

The national gendarmerie launched an investigation, while the Compiègne public prosecutor’s office opened an investigation for “violation of a grave, tomb, cinerary urn or monument built in memory of the dead committed due to race, ethnicity, nation or religion.

The investigation was entrusted to the Compiègne research brigade in support of the criminal investigation unit (CIC) of the gendarmerie which will be able to take in-depth samples in this case. These samples are all the more necessary as there is no video surveillance in this military cemetery.

A wave of political condemnations

“It was a horrible and scandalous scene”says the mayor of Moulin-sous-Touvent on franceinfo. “I am very angry, I am scandalized by the lack of respect for the duty of memory, which is savagely sullied. For me, these are acts of cruelty. We cannot do things like that, it is unacceptable”, she lamented. The prefect of Oise, Catherine Séguin, “condemns with the greatest firmness these abject acts against soldiers who died during the Great War”indicates the prefecture.

Jewish steles were discovered defaced in the German military cemetery of Moulin-sous-Touvent, near Compiègne (Oise), on November 15, 2023. (BORIS LOUMAGNE / RADIO FRANCE)

But the reactions did not only remain local. Emmanuel Macron, on a state visit to Switzerland, reacted during a press conference. The head of state has “condemned with the greatest force” these acts. It is “personal engagement” of “fight implacably and tirelessly against all forms of anti-Semitism”he assured.

He is “hard not to see a link” with the rise in anti-Semitic acts recorded since October 7 and the Hamas attack on Israel, said the LR deputy for the 5th district of Oise, Pierre Vatin. More than 1,500 anti-Semitic acts or remarks have been recorded in France since the start of this war in the Middle East.

Gn Fr France

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