Sunday, 20 Jun 2021 - 10 of Tammuz, 5781

’Each of us should guarantee his own security because unfortunately, security in France is not assured,’ warns Sarah Halimi’s son

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Yonathan Halimi spoke during a special digital rally with French leaders, officials from the United Nations, Canada and Israel, as well as multi -faith religious leaders.

Thousands recently took to the streets in cities across the world and many more protested on social media to voice their outrage over last month’s decision by France’s Supreme Court to excuse Sarah Halimi’s antisemitic killer, Kobili Traoré, from trial due to his consumption of marijuana on the night of his crime.

‘’Each of us should guarantee his own security because unfortunately, security in France is not assured,” said Yonathan Halimi, son of Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old woman who in April 2017 was beaten, then thrown to her death from her flat in north-east Paris by a Muslim of Malian origin who, during the barbaric attack, chanted verses from the Koran and shouted “Allahu Akbar.’’

He made the remarks during a special digital rally with French leaders, officials from the United Nations, Canada and Israel, as well as multi -faith religious leaders. The rally, at a time of relentless global antisemitism, was organized by CRIF, the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions and the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) on the title “Justice for Sarah Halimi: An International Movement Is Born.”

Yonathan Halimi recalled the values his mother stood for, saying “My mother always taught us to take responsibility… It is very difficult for us that today, the justice system, the authorities did not assume their own responsibility.”

Thousands recently took to the streets in cities across the world and many more protested on social media to voice their outrage over last month’s decision by France’s Supreme Court to excuse Halimi’s antisemitic killer, Kobili Traoré, from trial due to his consumption of marijuana on the night of his crime. Many thousands have since signed a petition calling for Traoré to stand trial.

French leaders focused on the destructive impact of the court decision on France and French society. Former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls demanded a change in French law and said, “We should never, ever forget Sarah Halimi. This court’s decision hurts me, hurts us – citizens of the French Republic. It’s truly a judicial and moral catastrophe.’’

“This antisemitism comes from the far right, from the far left, from our working-class districts, from the Arab-Muslim world under the guise of hatred for Israel and for Jews, or simply hatred. We must eradicate antisemitism from our society,” Valls added.

Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo underscored her commitment towards fighting antisemitism. She commented, “Sarah Halimi was the victim of an intolerable antisemitic murder. We cannot accept it – Paris cannot accept it.” She pledged to make good on her promise to name a street after Halimi, so that “The walls of our capital will show her history and her face.”

She also praised the French government’s recent decision to prohibit a recent pro-Palestinian protest in Paris, noting that during a similar demonstration in 2014 “horrible phrases were chanted, calling on death to the Jews.”

French philosopher, writer and intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy said that the Sarah Halimi case “is a symptom of the depth of French society’s denial of antisemitism. There was such a reluctance to admit the antisemitic character of this murder.”

He added however that since the court ruling “there is a huge movement in French society of solidarity with the family… and there is a global movement saying that justice has not been done.”

CRIF President, Francis Kalifat emphasized that Halimi was murdered purely because she was Jewish. He said, “Sarah Halimi was killed twice. She was first the victim of the Islamist violence, of the killer’s antisemitism, but Sarah Halimi was also the victim of a denial of justice,” which he described as “the concern of the entire French society. It’s France’s concern.”

United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Ahmed Shaheed expressed solidarity with the Halimi family and “the Jewish communities in France and around the world who face a tide of antisemitic hate crime.” He warned that “This case sets a tenuous precedent and we all know too well where impunity for hate crimes lead us. In addition to ensuring justice for Sarah Halimi, France and other countries need to urgently face up to rising antisemitism.”

CAM Board Member and Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel Isaac Herzog said that Halimi’s murder underscored how antisemitism persists. He said, “I call on the international community not to dismiss this issue, but rather to be extremely proactive in the fight against hatred in general and against antisemitism in particular.” He outlined three practical steps –  Greater adoption of the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance)  definition, “taking defensive measures to protect Jewish communities, synagogues and the like” and increased education.

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