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House bill makes cemetery vandalism a violation of religious freedom

WASHINGTON (JTA) – A bill that would make the desecration of cemeteries a violation of religious freedom was introduced in the House of Representatives.

On Monday, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) introduced  the Protect Cemeteries Act, which would amend the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to include the vandalism of cemeteries.

“Cemeteries are places of great significance to religions and families across the world, and often times reflect the history and religious identity of their communities,” Meng said in a statement.

“Disturbingly, however, those who promulgate hate and intolerance increasingly do so through the desecration of cemeteries, which is why this legislation is necessary. Hate crimes must not be tolerated anywhere in our society, and that includes the desecration of cemeteries,” she said.

Meng said protecting cemeteries was important for the Jewish community, as many Jews have ancestors buried in other countries with no one to tend to the graves of their loved ones.

The legislation is expected to be referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

 

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