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October 4, 2018 12:10 pm

French Government Launches Ilan Halimi Award for Youth Projects Combating Antisemitism

avatar by Ben Cohen

Protestors gather in Paris in February 2006 following the antisemitic murder of Ilan Halimi. Photo: Reuters/Regis Duvignau.

France’s Ministry of Culture has launched a new award for initiatives to combat antisemitism named in honor of Ilan Halimi — the 23-year-old Parisian Jew who was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered in 2006 by a criminal gang who seized him out of the conviction that Jews are wealthy enough to pay a ransom demand.

The Ilan Halimi Award was announced on Monday by French Culture Minister Françoise Nyssen, and will be awarded annually on Feb. 13 — the date that Halimi’s burned and naked body was discovered at a roadside. Rushed to the nearest hospital, Halimi died of his injuries while in the ambulance. His body was subsequently buried in Israel by his family.

Nyssen said the award “will reward projects run by young people under the age of 25 to fight racist and antisemitic stereotypes.” The deadline for submissions for the first award in 2019 is Nov. 22, with applicants encouraged to send proposals in areas from education to sport to digital activism.

The panel of award judges will be headed by Émilie Frèche, a writer whose book on Halimi’s murder by a mainly Muslim gang became the basis for the movie about his ordeal, 24 Days, Nyssen said.

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The Culture Minister also named the ten Jews murdered in France since Halimi’s death, saying that the award in his name was in their honor too.

The victims, “murdered on French soil because they were Jewish,” Nyssen said, included the three young children and their teacher murdered in a March 2012 gun attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse, the victims of the Hyper Cacher kosher market siege in Paris in January 2015, and elderly Paris widows Sarah Halimi and Mireille Knoll, murdered in their own homes in April 2017 and March 2018 respectively by intruders who uttered Islamist and antisemitic epithets.

On Thursday, Mireille Knoll’s son Daniel spoke at length about his mother’s suffering in media appearances to promote his new book C’était maman — “It was Mom.”

Mrs. Knoll, an 85 year-old survivor of the Holocaust, was found stabbed and burned in her Paris apartment on Mar. 23. One of her two assailants, 28-year-old Yacine Mihoub, is accused of yelling the words “Allahu Akhbar” as he drove a knife into her throat.

Daniel Knoll praised his mother as a woman who “did not live a banal life.”

“She did incredible things,” he said. “But she died in horrible circumstances. People need to know that we can still die today because we are Jewish.”

Knoll said that he planned to attend the forthcoming trial of Mihoub and his associate, 21 year-old Alex Carrimbacus. “We cannot trust such monsters,” he remarked. “There is a word missing in our vocabulary to describe them.”

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