Murderer of Paris Jewish Woman Sarah Halimi ‘Must Pay For His Act,’ Says Prominent French Parliamentarian
A close ally of newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron is the latest public figure in France to endorse the call to treat the murder of a 66-year-old Jewish widow in Paris last April as an antisemitic hate crime.
Frederic Lefebvre — who represents French expatriate voters in the US and Canada in the French Parliament — told The Algemeiner that the authorities’ response to the murder of Sarah Halimi on April 7 demonstrated that “in France as well as in the US, we refuse to call a spade a spade.”
Halimi was beaten senseless and then tossed from the window of her third-floor apartment by an intruder named in the French press as Kada Traore, a 27-year-old Malian immigrant. Police who arrived at the scene delayed their response after hearing Traore yelling “Allahu Akhbar!,” fearing that an Islamist terror attack was being launched.
The investigation of Halimi’s death has infuriated French Jews because of its focus on Traore’s mental health, which many fear will result in the crime being tried as an act of insanity instead of a hate crime. Indifference in the French media toward Halimi’s fate led one of her advocates, the left-wing philosopher Michel Onfray, to protest that she had been “murdered twice.”
Lefebvre was firm as to how the investigation should proceed. “It is an antisemitic act and it’s a murder, and that’s how it should be called,” he said. “The murderer must pay for his act.”
Lefebvre explained that in France, “insanity is considered as a mitigating circumstance. Considering that, there is a risk of treating terrorists and antisemites as insane, which would leave their crimes unpunished.” He said that a jury trial would be more likely to result in a stronger sentence.
Lefebvre will be up for re-election in the first of two rounds of the French parliamentary elections, which are being held on Sunday and June 18. One of eleven French parliamentarians representing French expatriates overseas, Lefebvre is the front-runner among candidates bidding for the more than 180,000 votes of French citizens in the US and Canada.
Last Thursday, Lefebvre hit the headlines in France after resigning from the center-right Republican Party over its reluctance to back Macron, the head of the centrist En Marche Party who won 70 percent of the French vote in North America in last month’s presidential run-off against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen of the National Front.
“I left the Republican Party because they questioned the legitimacy of the new president and want to prevent him from governing,” Lefebvre said. “But today, it’s time to change our political attitude — this is why I support the new president.”
Lefebvre said that his appreciation for Macron came as result of working with him. “We have a relationship of mutual trust,” he said. “We share the same certainty that we will only be able to reform France if we involve reasonable people from the Left and from the Right.”
A member of the French parliament’s defense committee, Lefebvre slammed French policy in the Middle East as having always been “blindly pro-Arab.”
“We have to defend the birthplace of democracy that is Israel,” he said.
Lefebvre urged the French government to revise its aid policy to the Palestinian Authority (PA) so that “subsidies are tied to the development of business in the Palestinian territories, instead of subsidies that are indirectly financing terrorism.”
“I hope that Emmanuel Macron will take care of this and I am ready to help him,” he said.
He also recommended the creation of a Europe-wide border police force to guard against the continuing wave of terrorist attacks in major cities around the continent. “We need ‘hot spots’ around Europe with checkpoints,” Lefebvre added.
Asked what his message was to French Jews who were thinking about emigrating because of rising antisemitism and an uncertain economic outlook, Lefebvre responded, “This is your land, don’t give up. France must offer you its protection.”