Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Vandals have spray painted and damaged graves at a Jewish cemetery in eastern France, as organizers stage marches Tuesday to oppose anti-Semitism.
About 80 graves were marred at the Quatzenheim, France, cemetery, located near the France-Germany border, a regional security officer told Radio France International. The suspects used blue spray paint to draw swastikas on grave markers.
The phrase "Elsassisches Schwarzen Wolfe," or "Black Alsacian Wolves," was painted on one, possibly a reference to a separatist group with links to neo-Nazis in the 1970s.
Anti-Semitism opponents staged rallies in Paris and other cities Tuesday to reject what they see as a growing trend of anti-Semitic acts -- including a violent tirade against a writer during "yellow vest" anti-government protests last weekend.
French authorities said there was a 74 percent increase in anti-Jewish offenses in 2018.
"Anti-Semitism is spreading like poison," French interior minister Christophe Castaner said ahead of the marches.
French President Emmanuel Macron was not scheduled to participate in any marches but plans to attend and speak at the 34th annual dinner representing French Jewish organizations on Wednesday.
In December, 37 tombstones and a monument to Holocaust victims were spray-painted with swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti near Strasbourg, France. In February 2017, Jewish headstones were toppled or damaged in Universal City, Mo., and Philadelphia.