The murder of Sarah Halimi in France (her family would have fled antisemitism in an Arab country a generation ago) raises disturbing questions which the authorities, the police and the media have yet to answer. Lyn Julius writes in The Huffington Post:
4 April a 65-year-old medical doctor living in a shabby suburb of Paris
was woken at 4 am, beaten up for an hour and sustained 20 or more
fractures to her body and face. At the end of her ordeal, she was thrown
out of the window to her death.
The murder of Sarah Halimi, an orthodox Jew, raises several unanswered questions.
first is – why was the killer, a 27-year old African convert to Islam
named Kada Traoré, labelled a madman with a history of drug abuse and
other offences, when all the evidence points to the fact he had
committed an act of Islamist terrorism?
know this because every sound coming from Sarah Halimi’s apartment was
recorded by a neighbour who is today ‘traumatised’ and under psychiatric
care. The murderer was heard to recite Surahs from the Koran and call his victim Satan; on several occasions, he shouted ‘Allah Hu-Akbar’. When the police came to arrest him they found him praying.
second question concerns the role of the police who were in the
building. Neighbours had called them as soon as they heard the
commotion. The police might have been able to save Sarah Halimi, but
decided not to intervene until they had summoned ‘reinforcements’.
These took their time to arrive! The police stand accused of a grave
dereliction of duty.
third question is the reluctance of the media and the authorities to
call out the antisemitic nature of the crime. There has been little
media publicity and allegations of a cover-up are rife within the Jewish
community. Human rights organisations, which rushed to indict the
historian Georges Bensoussan
for Islamophobia, have been silent. The murderer was dispatched to a
mental hospital – as had been, incidentally, the perpetrator of the Nice
massacre in 2016 (he had been diagnosed as psychotic when he lived in Tunisia). Yet the victim had long complained of antisemitic
harassment by Traoré. That night, the murderer may have blundered into
the building in a drug-fuelled haze, but the defenestration of Mme
Halimi was antisemitic in effect, if not in intent.
week, after the police announced the results of their inquiry, the
Jewish community seemed to have taken up the Sarah Halimi case with
renewed vigour. Mme Halimi’s brother, William Attal, has been deploring
the unbearable silence surrounding his sister’s murder. A Jewish
parliamentarian, Meyer Habib,
has made representations to the government; two lawyers, one civil and
one criminal, have been appointed to represent the Halimi family in
Traoré’s trial. One, William Goldnadel, remarked: “if the murderer had
been blond-haired and blue-eyed, all of France would have marched in the
streets: he is an islamist, so all of France hides in the woodwork.”
On 25 May the public intellectual Alexandra Laignel-Lavastine wrote an impassioned open letter, posted inAtlantico,
to Gerard Collomb, the minister of the interior in the new Macron
government. She pleaded with him to join the dots between the murder of
Ilan Halimi in 2006 and Sarah Halimi 11 years later (despite having the
same name they were not blood relations). Ilan Halimi
was the young man abducted by a gang called the Barbarians, tortured
for three weeks and found dying by the roadside – because he was a Jew.
Both acts were antisemitic, both were proof of a moral failure of French
society, a catastrophic failure to call a spade an ideological spade.
Halimi cases recall another antisemitic murder, earlier still: that of
Sebastien Selam, by a neighbour. “I have killed my Jew,” the murderer
shouted triumphantly. A recent convert to Islam, he believed his act
assured him of a place in heaven.
The killer of Sebastien Selam,
too, was declared a mental case, and was allowed out of hospital at
weekends to visit his parents in the same block where the murder was
committed, and Selam’s mother Juliette still lived. His parents were
rehoused; Juliette was not.
Will the Macron government break with the past and begin to take Islamist anti-Jewish hate crimes seriously? We shall see.