French World War Two memorial vandalised with anti-health pass slogan

A memorial to French World War II soldiers and Resistance fighters has been vandalised with an anti-health pass slogan, authorities said, an act that President Emmanuel Macron branded an "insult" to the nation's memory.

President Emmanuel Macron at a ceremony at the Mont Valerien World War Two monument on November 11th, 2021
French President Emmanuel Macron attended the monument on November 11th. Photo:Christophe Petit Tesson / POOL / AFP

The Mont Valerien monument in Suresnes, west of Paris, was vandalised with “Anti Pass” painted in large letters, with the style of the double-s reminiscent of that used by Nazis for their SS inscriptions, authorities said.

The inscription on the monument – which was inaugurated in 1960 by then-president Charles de Gaulle – is 50m long, they said.

Macron called the act, “an insult to the memory of our heroes and the memory of the nation”.

In a tweet, he said that “to sully this sacred place of the republic is to violate what unites us. The perpetrators will be found and put on trial.”

France requires a health pass, which demonstrates proof of vaccination, Covid recovery or a negative test result, for access to restaurants and cafes, public transport and cultural venues, a requirement that sparked major protests last summer.

The government is pushing for a fast rollout of booster shots in an effort to avoid another lockdown, amid a fifth wave of infections and concerns over the new Omicron variant.

It has also said the pass will lapse after seven months for anyone who fails to get a booster shot.

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Suspects in Paris Holocaust memorial defacement fled abroad: prosecutors

French police have tracked three suspects in last week's defacement of the Paris Holocaust memorial across the border into Belgium, prosecutors said.

Suspects in Paris Holocaust memorial defacement fled abroad: prosecutors

The suspects were caught on security footage as they moved through Paris before “departing for Belgium from the Bercy bus station” in southeast Paris, prosecutors said.

Investigators added that the suspects’ “reservations had been made from Bulgaria”.

An investigation was launched after the memorial was vandalised with anti-Semitic image on the anniversary of the first major round-up of French Jews under the Nazis in 1941.

On May 14, red hands were found daubed on the Wall of the Righteous at the Paris Holocaust memorial, which lists 3,900 people honoured for saving Jews during the Nazi occupation of France in World War Two.

Prosecutors are investigating damage to a protected historical building for national, ethnic, racial or religious motives.

Similar tags were found elsewhere in the Marais district of central Paris, historically a centre of French Jewish life.

The hands echoed imagery used earlier this month by students demonstrating for a ceasefire in Israel’s campaign against the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza.

Their discovery prompted a new wave of outrage over anti-Semitism.

“The Wall of the Righteous at the Shoah (Holocaust) Memorial was vandalised overnight,” Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said in a statement, calling it an “unspeakable act”.

It was “despicable” to target the Holocaust Memorial, Yonathan Arfi, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF) wrote on X, formerly Twitter, calling the act a, “hateful rallying cry against Jews”.

French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the act as one of “odious anti-Semitism”.

The vandalism “damages the memory” both of those who saved Jews in the Holocaust and the victims, he wrote on X.

“The (French) Republic, as always, will remain steadfast in the face of odious anti-Semitism,” he added.

Around 10 other spots, including schools and nurseries, around the historic Marais district home to many Jews were similarly tagged, central Paris district mayor Ariel Weil told AFP.

France has the largest Jewish population of any country outside Israel and the United States, as well as Europe’s largest Muslim community.

The country has been on high alert for anti-Semitic acts since Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel and the state’s campaign of reprisals in Gaza in the months since.

In February, a French source told AFP that Paris’s internal security service believed Russia’s FSB security service was behind an October graffiti campaign tagging stars of David on Paris buildings.

A Moldovan couple was arrested in the case.