12/14/2018 16:06 EST

Jewish Cemetery In France Desecrated With Swastikas Amid Growing Anti-Semitism

Thirty-seven tombstones and a monument to Holocaust victims were desecrated this week in the Herrlisheim Jewish cemetery near Strasbourg.

A woman stands in front of a desecrated tombstone. 

A Jewish cemetery in Eastern France was defaced with swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti, another incident in a growing pattern of recent extremist action in the country.

Thirty-seven tombstones and a monument to Holocaust victims were desecrated this week in the Herrlisheim Jewish cemetery near Strasbourg, according to The New York Times.

On one of the tombstones, someone scrawled the “14 words” slogan, a phrase used by white supremacists and neo-Nazis all over the world.

On Friday, French officials went to pay their respects.

“When a place of recollection is desecrated, it’s the entire Republic that is sullied,” Christophe Castaner, France’s interior minister, tweeted after visiting the cemetery. “Everything is being done to identify and detain the authors of this desecration.”

Police didn’t say whether they had any suspects in the vandalism, which likely occurred on Monday night or Tuesday morning. 

It was another week of extremist violence and political action in France, which has seen anti-Semitic acts, a terrorist attack and ongoing cultural upheaval in Paris.

On Tuesday in nearby Strasbourg, a suspected extremist shot and killed three and wounded at least 13 at a famed Christmas market. The suspect, 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt, was radicalized in prison through religion in prison, authorities said.

The country was already on edge following weekends of violent clashes between the “yellow vests” in Paris and riot police, where dozens are injured each night of protests. 

According to the Associated Press, police and working-class protesters also clashed in Marseille, Toulouse and Bordeaux, and in neighboring Belgium. On Saturday, demonstrators also blocked the French border with Italy, causing traffic to back up for miles. Around 135 people were reported injured nationwide, including 71 in Paris. 

Meanwhile, anti-Semitic incidents have skyrocketed in France. Prime Minister Édouard Philippe wrote on Facebook that such incidents had risen by 69 percent since in the first nine months of 2018, as compared to the same time last year.

Some 40 percent of religiously or racially charged violence was committed against Jews in 2017, the Times reported in July. Jews make up less than one percent of the country’s population.