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Teens arrested after prayer books burnt in French Jewish cemetery

(JTA) — French police reportedly arrested two teenagers on suspicion that they burned prayer books at a Jewish cemetery near Lyon in eastern France.

The two are suspected of setting fire to the office of the cemetery at Champagne-au-Mont-d’Or on Sunday night, according to Le Progres, a local newspaper. They are said to have set a tablecloth on fire and then used it to burn dozens of prayer books stored at the office. 

Police told the newspaper that the motive for the arson was presumed to be “pure vandalism” and not anti-Semitism.

In a separate incident, the mayor of Caluire et Cuire, a suburb of Lyon, reportedly filed a complaint with police over a large anti-Semitic graffiti that was spray-painted along eight meters, or approximately 26 feet, of a wall near a main road. 

It read, “Longs live Bin Laden, all the Jews to the ovens” and included swastikas, according to SPCJ, the security unit of France’s Jewish communities. SPCJ posted a picture of the graffiti online. Referencing French President Francois Hollande, the graffiti also read, “Hollande the dirty Jew, your mother.”

In a third incident, in Paris, the French news agency AFP reported that the words “Hessel is an anti-Semite” were spray-painted on the home of the 95-year-old pro-Palestinian activist and Socialist activist Stephane Hessel. 

No suspects have been apprehended in the Caluire et Cuire or Paris incidents.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, a German daily, last year quoted Hessel — a Jewish Holocaust survivor and author of a popular booklet “Indignez-vous!” ("Cry Out!) — as saying that the Nazi occupation of France was “relatively harmless” compared to the “Israeli occupation of Palestine.”

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