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Tens of Thousands Rally From Paris to Tel Aviv in Global Call for Justice for Sarah Halimi

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avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Demonstrators advocate justice for the late Sarah Halimi, at a rally in Paris, France, Sept. 13, 2020. Photo: Courtesy.

In the tens of thousands, Jewish communities and other supporters in France, London, Israel and across a number of cities in the US were rallying on Sunday in a global call for justice for Sarah Halimi — the French Jewish woman brutally murdered in her Paris apartment by Kobili Traore, who bellowed antisemitic slogans while beating her up.

The global rally to show solidarity with Halimi’s family comes after France’s highest appeal court this month ruled to excuse Traore from trial, on the grounds that his intake of cannabis supposedly rendered him temporarily insane on the night of the killing in April 2017. Following the decision, French President Emmanuel Macron has called for a change in his country’s laws on criminal responsibility.

French Minister of Justice Eric Dupond-Moretti announced on Sunday that by the end of May, the government will present a bill to the council of ministers to fill the “legal vacuum” that became apparent in the case.

Protests on Sunday were taking place in a number of cities in France including Paris, Marseille, Toulouse, Strasbourg, as well as cities such as Tel Aviv, Brussels, Rome, The Hague, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Miami and Toronto. In Paris, more than 20,000 people demonstrated at the Trocadero square in front of the Eiffel Tower holding up banners which read “Justice for Sarah Halimi.”

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Speaking at the Paris rally, the French intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy called once again for the creation of a “Sarah Halimi law” as well as for a revision of the Traore trial. “It is not sure that all judicial channels have been exhausted,” he said.

The rally in front of the French embassy in London was confined to limited attendance due to COVID-19 restrictions and included British actress Maureen Lipman as one of its speakers.

The Combat Anti-Semitism Movement organization has launched a global social media campaign to virtually protest the legal decision by France’s Court of Cassation, and to demand that Traore will be held accountable for Halimi’s murder.

“The recent legal ruling in France sets a dangerous precedent that murderous antisemitism can go unpunished. It is a shocking blow not only to the family of Sarah Halimi and to French Jews, but to anyone who cares deeply about combating racism, antisemitism and intolerance. It must not go unchallenged,” said CAM Director Sacha Roytman-Dratwa.

A spokesperson for the UK’s Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “During the Holocaust, French authorities were too often complicit in the genocide of French Jews. After the war, the nation vowed to defend what remained of its Jewish population. The decision of France’s highest court that torturing and throwing an elderly Jewish woman out of a window cannot be ascribed to antisemitic motivations if the attacker is high, is a betrayal of that pledge.”

“We are thousands in Paris,” tweeted CRIF, the Jewish representative body in France.

Earlier Sunday, French Jewish leaders and Chief Rabbi of France Haïm Korsia laid flowers in front of Halimi’s Paris home, and held a moment of silence.

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