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Vandals Wreck 34 Jewish Graves in Italy's Capital

July 19, 2002|From Associated Press

ROME — Dozens of Jewish graves were desecrated in a nighttime rampage through a cemetery here, prompting condemnation Thursday from Italian politicians and Jewish leaders.

The culprits smashed headstones, ripped off marble Star of David decorations and tore off parts of gravestones bearing Hebrew writing in the Jewish section of the Verano cemetery. At least one coffin was partially ripped open.

In all, 34 graves were damaged. The desecration, which happened after the cemetery closed Wednesday, was discovered Thursday by a visitor.

The vandalism, Deputy Prime Minister Gianfranco Fini said, "is an infamy that provokes horror and offends the consciences of all."

Rome's chief rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, called the desecration a "deep wound, a great offense, but this offense is made to the sensitivity of all citizens of Rome."

In a statement, a spokesman for Milan's Jewish community, Yasha Reibman, said that "in Italy and in Europe, a new, political anti-Semitism is growing, which uses as an alibi all that's happening in Israel."

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