Jewish tombstones are discovered desecrated with Nazi swastikas in cemetery outside of Strasbourg – as Islamist gunman behind Christmas market slaughter remains on the run
- Gravestones were found defaced in cemetery in Herrlisheim, 12 miles north of Strasbourg, on Tuesday
- Jewish graves were painted with swastikas and the numbers 14 and 88, which are used by white supremacists
- Slogans were also painted with slogans denouncing the French organisation representing Jewish people
- Graffiti was discovered hours before Cherif Chekatt killed three and wounded 12 at nearby Christmas market
Jewish gravestones in a cemetery near Strasbourg were discovered daubed with antisemitic graffiti hours before an Islamic extremist opened fire at a Christmas market in the French city.
The graves were painted with Nazi swastikas and the numbers 88 and 14, which are used by white supremacists to reference the phrase ‘heil Hitler’ and a 14-word statement he once issued from prison which reads: ‘We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.’
Other graffiti read ‘CRIF = ZOG’, referencing the French organisation which represents Jewish communities – CRIF – which was compared to a ‘Zionist occupation government’ or ‘ZOG’.
Jewish graves in a cemetery in Herrlisheim, 12 miles north of Strasbourg, were discovered covered in racist graffiti on Tuesday just hours before the city’s Christmas market was attacked by a radical Islamist
The graves were painted with Nazi swastikas and the numbers 88 – which stands for ‘heil Hitler’ – and 14 – which represents a white supremacist screed he once penned in prison
The graves were also painted with a slogan which reads CRIF = ZOG, referencing the organisation that represents French Jews, called CRIF, which was branded a ‘Zionist occupation government’, or ZOG
The graves are located in Herrlisheim, a commune around 12 miles to the north of Strasbourg.
This is the fourth time in two months that graffiti featuring far-right and antisemitic symbols has appeared in the Alsace region, according to the Jerusalem Post.
On the same day the most recent graffiti was discovered, Strasbourg saw one of its main avenues renamed for Simone Veil, a Holocaust survivor and former minister who died last year.
Hours after the vandalism was uncovered, Cherif Chekatt – an Islamic extremist – shot three people dead and wounded another 12 in an attack at Strasbourg’s Christmas market.
Police are hunting for Cherif Chekatt, 29, who opened fire in the Christmas market in Strasbourg, killing three people and wounding another 12
Some 720 police and gendarmes have been scouring a huge section of eastern France using helicopter sweeps, roadside checks, border surveillance and house searches, but have uncovered no trace of the 29-year-old.
Another 500 troops have been sent to guard public places including Christmas markets amid fears Chekatt will attack again, with 1,300 more due to join soon.
A government spokesman confirmed that police and troops have been told to capture Chekatt ‘dead or alive’, and that the most important thing is that he is found quickly.
There are fears that he could have fled into Germany, where he has a history of arrests, and searches have spread across the border.
Officers have warned that Chekatt, who has been convicted 27 times starting when he was just 13, should be considered dangerous and not to approach him.
On Thursday Le Parisien also revealed that, during a prison stay in 2008, Chekatt hung a picture of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden on his wall.
Chekatt was put under observation by anti-terror police and was still being watched at the time he committed his attack, but ministers said ‘the signs were weak’.
The attack in the heart of old Strasbourg, near its famous cathedral and within the Christmas market that draws many tourists, unsettled the border city that also is home to the European Parliament.
The German government said it had stepped up controls on the border with France but did not change its threat level.
Hundreds of armed officer and soldiers have been deployed around eastern France to hunt for Chekatt and protect civilians in case he decides to launch a second attack
Chekatt shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ as he opened fire with a revolver and attacked people with a knife at the seasonal market
Candles and flowers have been laid in Place Kléber, the main square in Strasbourg, in tribute to the victims of the attack
‘All terrorist attacks touch all of France, and it’s plain to see each of the attacks have hit a highly symbolic point or moment,’ Mr Philippe told parliament.
He listed violence since 2015 that killed more than 200: at the Charlie Hebdo satiric newspaper, a Kosher store, restaurants, bars and a concert hall in Paris; along the famed seaside promenade in Nice; and even inside a church in a quiet suburb of the northern city of Rouen, among others.
Strasbourg’s Christmas market ‘is a family and brotherly celebration that speaks about hope and what unites us. It’s this celebration that was hit yesterday by a terrorist act,’ he said.
The city was in mourning, with candles lit at the site of the attack, and the Christmas market was closed at least through Thursday, according to regional prefect Jean-Luc Marx.
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