30 January 2011
Two houses inhabited by families of Turkish origin were attacked by arsonists in Hoenheim, a suburb of Strasbourg, on Thursday night, the Anatolia news agency reported over the weekend.
There were no casualties and the fire in the neighboring houses was put out by firefighters and did not spread. Swastikas were drawn on walls and on a van parked in a yard. The families have two children each.
The mayor of Strasbourg, Roland Ries, and the president of the Urban Community of Strasbourg, Jacques Bigot, issued a joint statement condemning the “criminal act.”
In September, two cars owned by Faruk Günaltay, the Turkish director of the Odyssey Cinema Club in Strasbourg, were subject to racially motivated arson attacks. At the time, attackers also drew swastikas on the door of Günaltay’s house.
Over the course of the past year, Muslim and Jewish cemeteries and places of worship in Strasbourg were targets of racist attacks. A Council of Europe report released last year said racial profiling and some the exploitation of racial and xenophobic stereotypes on the part of politicians persisted in France despite progress in fighting discrimination.
Many racial acts go unreported, and for those that are referred to authorities there is a low conviction rate, a report by European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) said.
“While there had been improvements in certain areas, some issues gave rise to concern, such as minorities’ perception of the police, prejudice against Muslims and the tone of the immigration debate,” Nils Muiznieks, the chair of ECRI, the Council of Europe’s independent human rights monitoring body, was quoted as saying at the time.