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Protesters galvanized around the world after killer absolved in anti-Semitic murder in France

French court rules that Sarah Halimi's killer was not responsible for his actions since he was under the influence of drugs

Members of the French community gather outside the French Embassy in Tel Aviv to demand justice for the late Sarah Halimi who was murdered in her apartment in Paris by a neighbor in 2017, April 25, 2021. (Photo: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Thousands of people demonstrated in Paris, Tel Aviv and around the world against the recent ruling by the French Court of Cassation to absolve a man of what was believed to be the anti-Semitic murder of Sarah Halimi, a 65-year old Jewish woman, in France in 2017.

Kobili Traoré, a 27-year old Muslim man, was on trial for violently beating Halimi, his neighbor, while shouting “Allahu Akhbar” and afterwards pushing her out of her third-floor window. 

French courts recognized the anti-Semitic nature of the murder, but declared that Traoré could not be tried due to the claim he was in a drug-induced “delusional fit” and, therefore, not in control of his own actions. By ruling that Traoré was under the influence of drugs, the French court absolved him of criminal culpability in one of the most horrific anti-Semitic murders in Europe in recent times. 

While the main demonstration was held in Paris’s Place Du Trocadero, hundreds of protesters also took to the streets in Tel Aviv, London, Jerusalem, New York, Los Angeles, Miami and different cities throughout France. Several prominent public figures attended the rally in Paris, including Israeli-French actor Yvan Attal and French-Jewish comedian Gad Elmaleh. Also present were Halimi’s son Yonathan and her brother William Attal. 

Meanwhile in Tel Aviv, Israel's Diaspora Affairs Minister Omer Yankelevich expressed her solidarity with the Halimi family. 

“From Tel Aviv to Paris, the Jewish people in Israel and around the world stand united in solidarity with the Halimi family and the French Jewish community,” Yankelevich stated

Yankelevich stressed the anti-Semitic nature of the murder. 

“Sarah Halimi was murdered only because she was a Jew… Especially today, with the alarming rise in radical Islamic anti-Semitism throughout France, this court ruling sets a dangerous precedent that jeopardizes the security and well-being of our brothers and sisters in France,” she said. Yankelevich also vowed that Israel would do “all in its power to ensure the safety of all Jews” around the world.

The family of the murdered Halimi described the decision as an “injustice.” After the French court’s controversial decision, Esther Lekover, the sister of Sarah Halimi who lives in the Jewish state, announced that she would seek justice through a separate legal case in Israel. 

France is currently home to the largest Jewish community in Western Europe, numbering almost 500,000 people. It is also the third largest Jewish community after Israel and the United States. The majority of French Jews are of Sephardic descent with family history roots in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.

At the same time, France is also home to the largest Muslim population in Europe, numbering between 6 to 8 million. While the Jewish minority has been shrinking in recent years due to aging, emigration to Israel and assimilation, the Muslim minority continues to grow and already constitutes around 10% of the total population in France. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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