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Jewish cemetery vandalized in Germany

December 30, 2019

Two suspects are under investigation after a Jewish cemetery in western Germany was vandalized. The incident comes amid a worrying rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the country.

Police officers attend a crime
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Gollnow

Vandals overturned more than 40 gravestones and sprayed some with blue paint at a Jewish cemetery in a small town in western Germany on Sunday night, police said on Monday. 

A witness reported that two people in dark, hooded clothes were carrying out the vandalism in the town of Geilenkirchen, police in Aachen said. The witness immediately called police, who arrested two men, aged 21 and 33, in the vicinity of the crime. 

"When they were searched, the officers found balaclava and blue color aerosols," police said. 

The suspects are known to police. They were both released on Monday morning but an investigation is ongoing.

The act of vandalism occurred on the second-last day of Hanukkah.

Read more: Opinion: The deadly danger of being a Jew in Germany

Germany: Living with anti-Semitism

The police gave little information about the men, but the tabloid Bild  reported that they were "far-right extremists" known to the police. 

The act of vandalism comes three months after the Yom Kippur attack on a synagogue in Halle, where a gunman killed two passersby in an anti-Semitic far-right attack. Authorities have expressed concern about an increase in anti-Semitic crimes in Germany in recent years.

According to police figures, anti-Semitic acts have increased by almost 20% compared to 2017.  

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ed/cw (dpa, AFP)