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French Intellectuals Accuse Gov’t of Covering up Anti-Semitism in Murder of Jewish Woman

A member of the European Parliament and 17 prominent French intellectuals have accused French authorities of covering up the anti-Semitic motive behind the murder of Sarah Halimi, the Jewish Telegraph Agency reported Friday.

Halimi — a 66 year-old former kindergarten teacher and widow — was murdered in the early hours of April 4. The suspect, Kada Traore, a 27-year-old immigrant from Mali, broke into her apartment and viciously beat her. Traore could be heard yelling “Allahu Akhbar” and “Shaitan” (Arabic for Satan), which prompted neighbors to call the police. By the time anti-terror units were deployed, Traore had thrown Halimi out of the window of her third-floor apartment.

During the investigation, authorities focused on Traore’s mental health rather than the political motivation behind the crime. He was placed in a psychiatric institution and has not been charged with a hate crime, despite clear evidence that suggests he murdered Halimi for being Jewish.

During a speech in parliament, Frédérique Ries, a lawmaker from Belgium, on Thursday sharply criticized the conduct of French police and media.

“French authorities have treated her murder with icy silence,” Ries, who is Jewish herself, said, adding, “No national mobilization for Sarah, she died as the media remained quasi-indifferent.”

Last week, 17 leading French intellectuals, including the historian Georges Bensoussan and the philosopher Alain Finkielkraut, published a scathing letter echoing the criticism of Ries.

“Everything about this crime suggests there is an ongoing denial of reality” by authorities, the intellectuals wrote. They also cited testimonies of neighbors who said Traore had called Halimi a “dirty Jew” to her face.

“We demand all the truth be brought to light in the murder of Sarah Halimi,” the intellectuals concluded.

Because the murder of Halimi occurred in the months leading up to the French general election, many French Jews believe authorities deliberately downplayed the anti-Semitic motive behind the attack not to fuel support for Marine Le Pen’s Front National.

[Photo: Renaud Camus / Flickr ]