Culture & Society News Slovakia

Slovak Jewish cemetery vandals identified as five boys aged 9 to 12, not ‘extremists’

Bratislava, Slovakia – Žilina Police announced on Facebook that the culprits behind the desecration of gravestones in the Slovak Jewish cemetery of Rajec, in northern Slovakia, are in fact five boys, aged 9 to 12, and not radical extremists, as it was originally believed.

“The motive of the minors’ act was no racial, ethnic or religious intolerance, hatred towards another group of people, or the promotion of an ideology aimed at suppressing fundamental rights and freedoms,” said Jana Balogová, a spokesperson for the Žilina Region Police Department, according to the TASR newswire.

The five young Slovak boys desecrated nearly two dozen gravestones in the Jewish cemetery sometimes before Christmas although the exact date the incident took place remains unknown.

The damage has been evaluated at about €5,000. Due to the ages of the five children, criminal prosecution has been halted, reports The Slovak Spectator.

On December 16, nearly 60 gravestones, some of them over 200 years old, were also vandalized and severely damaged in the town of Namestovo, located only 2 hours from Rajec. The culprits are still at large.

“The Jews of Slovakia have in recent years been fortunately spared of overtly aggressive expressions of anti-Semitism”, had initially announced  the World Jewish Congress. “But it has become sadly clear that in the climate of xenophobia and hatred spiraling across Europe, every minority community is indeed a potential target for malicious attacks”.

Many acts of vandalism in Jewish cemeteries in Central Europe are often the work of vagrants or drug-users, and not necessarily hate crimes or anti-Semitic acts.

Decimated during World War II, Slovakia’s Jewish community is one of the smallest in Europe, numbering at less than 3,000 according to the latest estimates.