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Webmatters : Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, Desecration of Muslim Graves
Rough Map of Area

Notre Dame de Lorette

Attacks on graves

At the far end of the cemetery at Notre Dame de Lorette there is a large Muslim plot with a smaller Jewish plot alongside. Whilst in the smaller cemeteries the various faiths tend to be mixed together it was decided on creating this cemetery that with the numbers involved it would be a good idea to have separate plots.

The headstones have been cleaned

The headstones have been cleaned

Almost all of the graves concerned are those of soldiers from France’s former colonies in the north of Africa.

Unfortunately there are still people within the world who think that profaning the graves of soldiers strikes a blow at something.

In April 2007 fifty-two Muslim graves had slogans daubed on them and two young Frenchmen were convicted of the profanation. Their motivation was their hatred for the Maghr├Ębins, a term for those from North Africa.

They denied being Hitlerites despite the use of swastikas on the graves and the number 18 (Adolf Hitler: 1 = A, 8 = H). It was an act of drunken vengeance.

A second attack took place in April 2008 with 148 headstones tagged with graffiti.

Increased security was ordered but the cemetery is situated on top of an isolated hill and covers a huge area. Short of putting up palisades there is little that can realistically be done to secure the site.


A third attack

On the night of the 7th December 2008 the cemetery was attacked again. This time 527 Muslim and Jewish graves were daubed with letters which, when read together, created slogans against Muslims and political personalities.

Such an undertaking must have taken some considerable time and a certain amount of planning.

Nobody has been made amenable for the crime and no organisation has come forward to offer a motive.

In all probability this is further work of nationalists who feel that they are striking a blow against the French Muslim community – better known here as: the Arabs.

France would not be the only country in the world where the locals create against others who come to take their jobs, but it is interesting that under their nationality laws these foreign Arabs are for the most part French citizens, having been born here.

The attack is certainly not anti-Semitic as such for whilst twenty or so of the graves concerned are Jewish soldiers no similar attack was made against the hundred Jewish graves in the local German Military Cemetery.

Whilst there is a lot of ill feeling in some sectors of the population against Muslims it is notable that the graves are French Empire soldiers – the British Empire Muslims in Arras for example are untouched.

These graves at Lorette are of Africans who volunteered to fight for France: their mother country, a country that they had never seen and had no ancestral connection to. Whilst France has accorded them military honours I wonder if these men were ever actually considered French citizens. I am of the opinion that these graves are not therefore of French Muslims but of Algerians, Senegalese Moroccans etc.

Lay and religious leaders

In effect the perpetrators of this desecration have decided that the best way to mark their anger against the Muslim world is to daub slogans on the tombs of Muslims who travelled from Africa to fight and die for France.

Only a few kilometres from here is the French Cemetery at La Targette. There you can see more Muslim graves: from both world wars.

Perhaps that is the secret behind these attacks. It must be difficult to stomach the idea that France was saved from domination by people that the French nation had previously conquered and incorporated into her Empire. People who by their deeds earned the right to be considered Frenchmen.

Jewish prayers

Obviously being liberated by the English and Americans (regardless of their religion) is one thing but to have to admit that French colonial Muslims had a hand in anything is just too much.

To be honest I think that such an affront to decency is the work of people who have neither the gift of coherent thought nor the ability to articulate a meaningful argument.

A mixture of faces

On the 12th December 2008 two thousand people attended a short service of reconciliation which was held in the teeth of freezing temperatures. It was so cold and foggy we could hardly see the chapel from the end of the cemetery.

Surrounded by the flags of the honour guard, representatives of the government and the three major religions spoke and local children sang, despite being foundered by the weather.

Probably frozen