French Political Leader Stirs Controversy by Evoking the ”Emotion of the Jewish Community” Following the Supreme Court Ruling in the Murder of Sarah Halimi
The European Jewish Press quoted B'nai B'rith Europe President Serge Dahan's condemnation of the decision by the French Supreme Court to uphold an earlier ruling that the man who murdered Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old Jewish woman, in her Paris flat in 2017, will not stand trial.
A French political leader stirred controversy by evoking ‘’the emotion of the Jewish community’’ rather than using the words ‘’national community’’ when he spoke about the decision of France’s Supreme Court to upheld an earlier ruling that the man who killed Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old Jewish woman, in her Paris flat in 2017, will not stand trial.
The murderer, Kobili Traore beat up the victim several times and shouted “Allahu Akbar” before throwing her body out of a third-floor window and shouting “I killed the devil”.
The court said the man, a heavy cannabis smoker, committed the killing after succumbing to a “delirious fit” and was thus ‘’not criminally responsible’’ for his actions. This means there will be no trial contrary to the wish of the victim’s family.
In an interview, Julien Bayou, the national secretary of Europe Écologie Les Verts (EELV), France’s Green party, declared: “I understand the emotion of the Jewish community, but we must keep this principle: ‘We don’t judge fools’ (…) Justice is not revenge.’’
His statement was denounced on social media. “It is the national community that was moved by the absence of a trial for Sarah Halimi’s murderer! Let’s defend our nation as one and indivisible. This is France, a France that some people never stop dividing and fracturing,” commented Valérie Pécresse, president of the Île-de-France region.
“There is a very strong emotion among all French people,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal declared on n Europe 1 radio.
Following his controversial statement, Bayou tried to “clarify his thoughts”. He explained that he had reacted “as a man of law” by elaborating “on the legal reasons” that led the Court of Cassation to take this decision. “But clearly, this verdict shocked us all, obviously,” he said.
“When a Jew is attacked, it is all of France that is attacked. I spoke about the Jewish community in particular because Jews in France are particularly affected by these increasingly barbaric acts,” he said.
Amid outcry over the Supreme Court’s ruling, French President Emmanuel Macron has urged a change in the law. “Deciding to take narcotics and then ‘going mad’ should, not in my view, remove your criminal responsibility,” he told daily Le Figaro in an interview.
“I would like Justice Minister (Eric Dupond-Moretti) to present a change in the law as soon as possible”, he said. ‘’I want to assure the family, relatives of the victim and all fellow citizens of Jewish faith who were awaiting this trial of my warm support and the determination of the Republic to protect them,” he added.
Jewish groups said the ruling has made Jews less safe in France. Lawyers for Halimi’s family said they intend to refer the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
‘’This is a revolting, scandalous, offensive and unworthy decision,’’ said Serge Dahan, President of B’nai B’rith Europe, who called ‘’to denounce this judicial and moral defeat in the face of this antisemitic assassination.’’
A “rally of anger for Sarah Halimi’’ to express anger over the court’s decision is scheduled to take place next Sunday at the Place du Trocadero in Paris. Rallies are also organized in several other cities in France and abroad.
B'nai B'rith France was a key contributor to the first-of-its-kind European Parliament discussion on anti-Semitism, presenting to the delegation for relations with Israel.
The delegation is headed by Italian MEP Fulvio Martusciello, who made his first visit to Israel as a guest of B'nai B'rith International last October.
The delegation discussed the disturbing rise in violence and rhetoric against European Jewish communities since Operation Protective Edge brought defensive conflict to Israel in the summer of 2014.
Read excerpts from an article written in the European Jewish Press, below:
Other speakers included Stéphane Teicher, Vice- President of B’nai B’rith France and Jane Braden-Golay, President of the European Union of Jewish Students.
"The fact that anti-Semitism becomes ordinary to the eyes of the civil society is a matter of concern," said Teicher, who noted the indifference of the population. "There was no mass reaction in France following grave anti-Semitic developments of protests in Paris during last summer Israeli Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in Gaza."
But he sees also matters of hope, citing the "very strong commitment of the French government not to tolerate anti-Semitism and its actions," the fact that the January attacks in Paris against a kosher supermarket and in Copenhagen against a synagogue "clearly showed the clear link between radical Islamism and anti-Semitism."
"Muslim leaders understand that the French Muslim community is under threat too," Teicher added
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