Rome mayor condemns damage to Catholic and Jewish graves in Verano cemetery | News | DW | 12.05.2017
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Rome mayor condemns damage to Catholic and Jewish graves in Verano cemetery

Rome's Mayor Virginia Raggi has condemned the damage at the city's largest cemetery as a 'cowardly act.' Both Catholic and Jewish headstones were among the monuments smashed.

The 70 damaged headstones and monuments were discovered by authorities on Friday who said both Catholic and Jewish headstones had been vandalized.

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi wrote on Twitter "what happened to the Verano cemetery is a cowardly act."

Expressing concern for neighbors and families, Raggi said there should be immediate clarity in finding out what had happened.

Italian media said investigators suspect a group of youths had broken into the cemetery overnight and vandalized the tombstones, smashing glass-framed photographs of loved ones placed by the graves.

Surveillance cameras have recorded images of several young individuals entering the cemetery and running through it smashing the memorials.

Who was to blame?

The Rome Jewish Community said it was too soon to determine if anti-Semitism had been a motivation for the attack. "We are awaiting developments in the investigation by [law enforcement] to ascertain the causes and responsibility for this act," it said.

In February more than a hundred Jewish headstones were knocked over and damaged at a cemetery in Philadelphia and more than 170 headstones were knocked over in Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, a suburb of St Louis, Missouri. The same month, teenagers in France were arrested after 250 Jewish tombstones were damaged in Alsace.

In April, ten Jewish tombstones were smashed in the Romanian capital of Bucharest. That attack coincided with Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day. Three youths aged 13 to 16 were investigated, according to Bucharest police.

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