Relatives of Sarah Halimi, French Jewish Pensioner Murdered by Islamist, Lodge Negligence Complaint With Paris Prosecutor
Relatives of the brutally murdered Parisian Jewish pensioner Sarah Halimi have lodged a formal complaint with the Paris Public Prosecutor’s office over the manner in which local authorities in the French capital have treated her case.
Dr. Halimi was tortured and murdered in her Paris apartment in April by an Islamist intruder with a prior record of harassment toward her. The complaint filed by her relatives asserted that police reacted with “inertia” after being alerted to the attack by Halimi’s neighbors.
The complaint also slammed the “lack of coordination” in the provision of care and welfare services to Halimi, who lived in public housing in the depressed Belleville neighborhood. Because she knew and feared the intruder, who lived in her building, Halimi had formally requested that the public housing department move her to a new apartment, but without explaining why.
“My sister was terribly afraid of this man, he had called her a ‘dirty Jew,’ but she was afraid that filing a complaint would be dangerous for her,” her brother William Attal explained in an interview with French news agency AFP following the family’s decision last week to take the case to the public prosecutor.
Attal said that the family’s goal was not to have the police condemned, but for Halimi’s murder to be legally tried as a hate crime. “Our struggle is for justice to recognize that this was an Islamist and antisemitic murder,” Attal declared.
Halimi’s killer, 27 year-old Malian immigrant Kobili Traore, broke into her apartment on April 7 just after 4 a.m. As he subjected Halimi — a 66-year-old former kindergarten teacher — to a savage beating, neighbors alerted police after hearing her screams. Officers who arrived at the scene just before 5 a.m. heard Traore shouting “Allahu Akhbar!” and “I have killed Shaitan!” (Arabic for ‘Satan’). Fearing a terrorist attack was being planned, the officers called for backup. But by the time anti-terror units arrived, Traore had thrown Halimi’s fractured and bruised body out of the window of her third-floor apartment.
Traore is currently in hospital awaiting a psychiatric evaluation. There is deep concern in the French Jewish community that he will escape a charge of murder motivated by antisemitism if he is determined to be mentally unfit, thereby evading criminal responsibility under the terms of the French legal system.
In an op-ed published on Monday in the top French daily Le Figaro, Francis Kalifat — president of the French Jewish representative body CRIF — argued that the country was in denial that “again in France, Jews are assaulted and even killed solely because they are Jews.”
The widespread media indifference to Halimi’s ordeal has led to an increasingly agonized national debate, with several of France’s leading intellectuals condemning the “silence” around both Halimi’s fate and the broader challenge of antisemitism among French Muslims. One common theory is that top journalists and editors ignored her case so as not to boost the electoral fortunes of Marine Le Pen, the far-right National Front presidential candidate who was defeated by Emmanuel Macron in May.