Another day in France.
PARIS — France assigned 100 police officers to investigate the desecration on Sunday of 148 Muslim graves in a war cemetery in northern France.
President Nicolas Sarkozy called the attack “sordid” and expressed “profound outrage” after it was discovered that vandals had hung a pig’s head from one tombstone, desecrated others and wrote slogans insulting Justice Minister Rachida Dati, who was born in France to parents from Northern Africa.
The graves were in the Muslim section of Notre Dame de Lorette, among France’s largest war cemeteries, near the northern town of Arras. The dead are mostly from World War I, and the Muslim graves, representing the dead of colonial armies, are turned toward Mecca.
Ms. Dati issued a statement condemning a “hateful act” with “racist connotations” that “hurts the memory of our dead, of the veterans who gave their lives for France.”
Dalil Boubaker, rector of the Paris mosque, told France Info radio: “These are probably the tombs of heroes who fell in combat. This is a hateful, scandalous act, an insult to all Muslims.”
In April 2007, Nazi slogans and swastikas were painted on about 50 graves in the Muslim section of the same cemetery, and two men found guilty in the case were sentenced to a year in prison.
About 78,000 colonial subjects of France, many of them Muslims, died in World War I.
Elsewhere in Europe, Geert Wilders, a man for whom many appellations are fitting, gives an interview plainly illustrating that he is no less than a bigot fishing for attention, and give lie to the narrative that he is merely attempting to goad Muslims into reform or attempting to defend Western values through controversy:
SPIEGEL: Your tirades are a challenge to all moderate Muslims and those pushing for Islamic reform.
Wilders: Moderate Islam? That’s a contradiction. It’s going to be a long time before we see a new Koran, an equivalent to the New Testament. Attacks don’t happen in the name of Buddhism or Christianity; nor do homosexuals get beaten up, as happens daily in Amsterdam.
SPIEGEL: But immigrant youth crime has nothing to do with religion.
Wilders: It’s true, they don’t carry the Koran under their arms. But it’s at home. And their fathers go to the mosque. They don’t tell their children that beating women or believers of other religions is not allowed. That’s why we have to push harder for a kind of Leitkultur, a guiding culture. Not a monoculture but a culture that draws on our Christian, Jewish, humanistic traditions and that poses a challenge to the Islamic problem. This is patriotism, not nationalism, this is pride in our own culture.
In comparative perspective, it is several time better to be a Muslim or an Arab in North America than anywhere in Europe.