ABLAIN-SAINT-NAZAIRE, France: President Nicolas Sarkozy Thursday vowed to step up the fight against Islamophobia following the desecration of 148 Muslim graves at France s biggest war cemetery this month.
The acts committed here have a name, Islamophobia, which we need to combat with the greatest severity, just as we combat racism and anti-Semitism, Sarkozy said in a message at the Notre Dame de Lorette World War I cemetery in northern France.
That is why I wish to tell you, in this place charged with memory, of our disgust and indignation in the face of the hateful desecration of this sacred place, the president said.
Sarkozy was represented by Veterans Minister Jean-Marie Bockel at the ceremony, held to mark the 90th anniversary of the 1918 armistice.
Did the imbecile desecrators who committed these acts have the slightest idea of the heroic courage that drove these men, who fell for France in the spring of 1915? he asked.
Vandals early this month daubed swastikas over 148 of the cemetery s Muslim graves, hanging a pig s head from one tomb.
Four youths were arrested in connection with the attack, which drew fierce condemnation from French political and religious leaders.
They are believed to be linked to a group of neo-Nazis who scrawled swastikas on Muslim graves in the same cemetery last year. Two men aged 18 and 21 and a 16-year-old were given jail terms over that attack. -AFP