The murder of Sarah Halimi, Hy”d, will be treated as an anti-Semitic crime, according to a ruling by a judge this past Tuesday. The decision reverses a move made by the same court a month ago which dismissed the defendant’s religious motivations in the attack.
François Kalifat, the President of CRIF, France’s umbrella organization for Jewish institutions, expressed “relief and satisfaction” at the news.
Mrs. Halimi, 66, had worked for many years as a teacher of young children in a local Jewish school. At around 4 a.m. on April 4, Kada Traore, a 27-year-old Muslim immigrant from Mali who lived in her building, forced his way into her apartment and brutally murdered her. During the attack, neighbors heard him reciting verses from the Koran and shouting anti-Semitic slurs.
Yet, in the immediate aftermath, the story gained nearly no attention in the media, and the justice system refused to say that Mrs. Halimi was targeted for being Jewish.
The victim’s family and Jewish advocacy groups in France were joined by several public figures who called for greater light to be shed on the case and welcomed a decision by the prosecutor’s office that the murder would be tried as a “hate crime.” Yet, their hopes seemed dashed when the judge assigned to the case dismissed the charge relating to anti-Semitism citing the suspect’s being under the influence of illegal substances at the time of the crime.
Following sustained public outcry by Jewish groups who opposed the move and appeal from the prosecutor on the case in, this Tuesday, the judge reversed his position and re-added the hate crime designation against Traore.
Over the past few months, there has been an uptick in anti-Semitic incidents in the country. In January a Jewish High School girl’s face was slashed on her way home and an arsonist burned a kosher grocery. Last week, in Lyon, a Rabbi’s infant child suffered minor injuries from a caustic solution that seems to have been purposely placed in her carriage by a passerby.
Echoing statements made previously regarding the Halimi case, Mr. Kalifat expressed hopes that the trial will bring greater attention to the threats facing French Jewry.
“The upcoming trial must also be one for Islamist anti-Semitisim that has killed several times in recent years in France,” he said.