Antisemitic incidents grew in Luxembourg in 2021

Number of hate crime reports targeting Jews in Luxembourg has almost doubled since 2019, prompted by the pandemic and war in Ukraine.

According to Research and Information on Anti-Semitism in Luxembourg (RIAL), a charity that combats antisemitism, there was an increase in hate crime reports targeting Jews in Luxembourg in 2021, which might have been induced by the COVID-19 pandemic and Ukraine war.

There were 80 antisemitic incidents recorded in 2021 by the RIAL, up from 64 the previous year, reports the Luxembourg Times. Cases have almost doubled since 2019, when there were 47 incidents, and there have been 30 reports received this year to date, which included harassment, damage to Jewish graves and online abuse.

The pandemic gave rise to conspiracy theories, and some compare government COVID-19 regulations to the Nazi Holocaust, which sparked antisemitic incidents. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was also cited as a factor in the rising number of antisemitic hate crime cases. President Putin has attempted to justify his war by claiming Russia is liberating Ukraine from Nazis, even though Ukrainian leader Zelensky is Jewish and far-right nationalist groups have little influence in the country.

According to Justice Minister Sam Tanson, Luxembourg is planning to hand out tougher punishments for crimes in which race, religion or sexual orientation plays a role. The tightening follows the EU’s threat of legal action and the UN’s criticism of the Grand Duchy for its current practices.

The new legislation will assist prosecutors pursuing antisemitic crimes. There is no exact data on the number of antisemitic incidents in Luxembourg, because such incidents are not separately registered.

A national strategy to tackle antisemitism formed part of an agreement signed in January 2021 between Luxembourg’s government and the Jewish community, under which the state said it would pay €1 million to compensate Holocaust survivors and establish a memorial at the site of a former Nazi internment camp.