A massive protest was conducted by Jews in France, condemning the government's indifference towards the community. At least 20,000 protesters took part in the gathering at Trocadero Square, demanding a trial for the murderer of Sarah Halimi.
Many Jews expressed fear that they were not sure of their future and safety in France anymore. The fear is the result of recent court verdict on Sarah Halimi's murder. The apex court of France had ruled that Halimi's murderer was high on marijuana and thus he was unfit for trial.
Will Halimi's Murderer be Brought to Trial?
This had shocked not only Jews but also the entire country. Following public outcry, even French President Emanuel Macron had assured that efforts were being made to bring the killer of Sarah Halimi to trial. He had said that he would seek a change to laws to prevent such a case from happening again.
Recently, Halimi's sister had also sought a change in law to provide justice to Halimi. With protest and increasing demand for change in law, France is literally boiling over Halimi's murder. Usually, Jews have peaceful gatherings and are not known to blow their protests out of proportion. But the April 25 protest proved that the entire Jewish community was in a shock and would not sit quite till justice is served. Here is why the community is demanding justice for Halimi.
Who is Sarah Halimi?
Sarah Halimi, a 60-year-old doctor and schoolteacher, was brutally killed by her neighbor Kobili Traoré on April 4, 2017. Traoré, 27, who would spend most of his time inside the nearby Mosque, entered Halimi's apartment on the ill-fated day and beat her to death. He then threw her out of the window. He was heard shouting Allahu Akbar when he attacked her and had proclaimed, "I killed the Shaitan."
The killing of Halimi has been compared to the murder of Mireille Knoll in 2017 and the murder of Ilan Halimi eleven years earlier. Sarah Halimi's murder was termed as anti-Semitic by the community. But France took two years to label the killing as anti-Semitic. Even though later the government acknowledged anti-Semitic motive behind the killing, the lower court ruled that the man was under the influence of cannabis and declared that he was in an induced state of psychosis. The case was then referred to Court of Cassation, [apex court] which upheld lower court's ruling.
This has led to a movement as France is known for high rates of anti-Semitic incidents. Times of Israel reported that about 50,000 Jews have immigrated to Israel in the last 10 years. Referring to a 2020 survey, the report claimed that about 449,000 Jews had departed the country in an unprecedented manner. In 2012 four Jews were killed at a Jewish school in Toulouse by radicalized Islamists.
Why Are Jews Feeling Insecure?
Reports claimed that at least nine officers were present outside Halimi's apartment when the tragic incident occurred. Despite their close presence cops took 20 minutes to scramble and find her apartment after she was slayed. There are also theories that their arrival was delayed intentionally.
In fact, it was said that the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism watchdog group had called for an internal inquiry into the policing situation, but in vain. Jews have also expressed disappointment about the way French media treated the case. Halimi murder was treated by the media as a neighborly dispute for weeks.
But recent massive protest was taken part by priests, imams and also Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, sending a clear message to the French authorities at a time when there is hesitance from the authorities to deal strictly with fundamental French Islamists. Will the French President fulfil his promise and bring the culprit to trial, only time can tell.