On June 24, 2004 Reuters reported, "Neo-Nazi vandals have struck at the Islamic minority in the Alsace region of eastern France, desecrating 48 graves of Muslim soldiers with swastikas and "SS" inscriptions, officials said on Thursday. The vandals smashed seven Muslim gravestones overnight in the military cemetery in this town north of Strasbourg, capital of the region which has seen about a dozen graffiti attacks on Muslim, Jewish and Christian sites in recent weeks. In a statement, Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin expressed 'indignation at this new manifestation of hate, which is particularly unbearable because it concerns soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice to defend the freedom of France.' A desecration of Muslim graves in Strasbourg last week prompted President Jacques Chirac to announce a new drive to end ethnic intolerance in France. Villepin visited local Muslim leaders after that attack to announce the creation of an interfaith committee to work towards greater tolerance and understanding."