French leaders and officials from the United Nations, Canada and Israel demanded justice for the murdered Jewish Frenchwoman, Mrs. Sarah Halimi, Hy”d, during a special digital rally on Monday organized by the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF) and Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM).
Speakers also warned against the dangerous spike in anti-Semitism and called for concrete measures to tackle it.
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 French court decision to excuse Halimi’s murderer, Kobili Traoré, from standing trial due to his consumption of drugs on the night of his crime. Many thousands have since signed a petition calling for Traoré to stand trial.
Mrs. Halimi, a 65-year-old Jewish woman, was pushed out of the window of her third-floor apartment by Traoré after he reportedly yelled anti-Semitic abuse and shouted All-hu akbar, or G-d is greatest.
Keeping the issue in the public eye and on the international agenda, especially at a time of relentless global anti-Semitism, the CRIF and CAM held a special rally titled “Justice for Sarah Halimi: An International Movement is Born.”
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 that “we should never, ever forget Sarah Halimi. The court’s decision hurts me, hurts us – citizens of the French Republic. It’s truly a judicial and moral catastrophe.”
“This anti-Semitism 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 anti-Semitism from our society,” he demanded.
Mrs. Halimi’s son Yonatan 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.”
He also warned that “each of us should guarantee his own security because unfortunately, security in France is not assured.”
CRIF President, Francis Kalifat emphasized that Halimi was murdered purely because she was Jewish.
“Sarah Halimi was killed twice. She was first the victim of the Islamist violence, of the killer’s anti-Semitism, but Sarah Halimi was also the victim of a denial of justice,” he said, which should be “the concern of the entire French society. It’s France’s concern.”
Global leaders outlined the wider significance of the failure to bring Sarah Halimi’s killer to trial and urged leaders across the world to take steps to combat anti-Semitism.
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 anti-Semitic 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.”
Canada’s Special Envoy for Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism Irwin Cotler, also the country’s former Justice Minister said that “the anti-Semitic murder of Sarah Halimi is a dramatic case study of both the pandemic of anti-Semitism on the one hand and the indifference and impunity that underpin it on the other.”
CAM Board Member and Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel Yitzchak Herzog said that Halimi’s murder highlights how anti-Semitism persists. He called 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.”