French interior min. insists on the right to public religious dress

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has insisted that Jews and members of all other religions be able to display their religious dress in public, saying this was one of the strengths of the French republic.

Darmanin spoke earlier this week at the dedication of 269 restored headstones at a Jewish cemetery in the eastern French town of Sarre Union, which were vandalized and some painted with swastikas in February 2015.

“The strength of France is to grant a public right to followers of religious beliefs, and of course to Jews, to maintain their religion [and] to keep their attire in public and keep their Jewish appearance, ”said Darmanin.

The minister denounced anti-Semitic attacks such as the one that desecrated the Sarre Union Jewish cemetery, noting that for such attacks to take place “there must be a speech that gives legitimacy to some of these acts.”

Said Darmanin: “It is our great responsibility to be careful with words and to provide all the necessary support for a comprehensive and inclusive speech, and to condemn any intolerance in any guise.”

Headstones in a Jewish cemetery in the eastern French town of Sarre Union (credit: Consistoire of the Lower Rhine – Eli Butbul and Yoav Rouseno)

The minister’s comments may well have referred to an incident last week in which far-right French nationalist and likely presidential candidate Eric Zemmour, who is also Jewish, told a Muslim woman to remove her hijab while on tour. through the Parisian suburb of Drancy.

Hundreds of members of the Jewish community, local residents of nearby Strasbourg and the Lower Rhine region of France attended the opening ceremony, along with the Chief Rabbi of France and the First Vice President of the Conference of European Rabbis, Rabbi Haïm Korsia, members of the French Parliament and other dignitaries.

In the last five years, there have been two other incidents in which Jewish cemeteries were desecrated in eastern France in the Alsace region, specifically in Herrlisheim and Quatzenheim, while another in Westhofen, in southwestern France, was also vandalized. .

During his remarks, the Interior Minister noted that there have been about twenty anti-Semitic acts in the Alsace region and said that the country would not tolerate such attacks.

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