French President Jacques Chirac has pleaded for an end to an increasing wave of racist attacks in France, which he says are "sullying" the country.
French President Jacques Chirac called for urgent action to end what he described as "despicable and odious acts of hatred soiling our nation." Vowing to do "all I can to stop them," he said that those who committed these crimes will be punished "with all the rigor of our laws." Chirac's speech, his longest and most powerful for some time on domestic French affairs, was made all the more resonant by his choice of venue. The President had traveled to Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, a small village in South-West France, where the local population had risked their lives to shelter Jews from the Nazis during the Second World War. He was accompanied by Simone Veil, a survivor of Auschwitz. The recent rise in anti-Semitic and other racist incidents has shocked France and tarnished its image abroad. But it is not just anti-Semitism that's on the increase: A Muslim cemetery in Strasbourg came under attack in June and racist slogans have been daubed on mosques. ( EUobserver.com)