PRAGUE (Nov. 15)
The Czech Republic has been hit with the second act of anti-Semitic violence in less than one week.
On the night of Nov. 11, headstones in a cemetery in the eastern Czech town of Trutnov were spray-painted with the words “Death to Jews” and with Jewish stars hanging from gallows. A plaque marking the site of the town’s former synagogue also was covered in graffiti, as was a memorial to Jewish girls used as slave laborers during World War II. Damages were estimated at $8,000.
The Federation of Czech Jewish Communities does not believe any Jews are living in the economically depressed town.
The Czech government was quick to condemn the act. “State authorities will do everything in their power to catch the perpetrators,” said Libor Roucek, a government spokesman.
The vandalism came just days after a teen-age skinhead was arrested and charged with stabbing a Czech Jewish soldier in Prague.
The executive secretary of the federation said he believed the Nov. 8 attack was the first anti-Semitic criminal act since the fall of communism in 1989.
“It’s a very alarming incident,” said Tomas Kraus.
The 17-year-old suspect was charged under the country’s hate crimes laws with attempting racially motivated murder and promoting fascism. Since the accused was a minor at the time of the alleged crime, he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The soldier, 22, was reported to be in stable condition in a Prague hospital.