Sarah Halimi: a French story

Home"TO THE ONE"Sarah Halimi: a French story
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Sarah Halimi: une histoire française

On April 4, in a public housing project in Belleville, Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old Jewish retiree, was tortured and then defeated at the shout of "Allah akbar" by Kobili Traoré, her 27-year-old neighbor. The barbarity of crime has been aggravated by weeks of media and political denial, and by the refusal to evoke the anti-Semitic hypothesis. Investigation.

White March in tribute to Sarah Halimi, at the bottom of her building in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, April 9, 2017. Photo credit: Plume Heters Tannenbaum / Hans Lucas

Is killing a Jew in France irrelevant? " This question haunts William Attal for almost two months. Since that tragic night when her big sister was murdered at home by Kobili Traoré, her 27-year-old neighbor. Sarah Halimi, 65, was a mother of three. This former director of a divorced nursery, described as "Discreet, kind, helpful", lived for more than thirty years in a Parisian HLM, in the heart of Belleville. On April 4, she was beaten, tortured and then defecated from the third floor to shouting " God is great ". In the inner courtyard of 26 rue de Vaucouleurs where his body was found dead, his brother scrutinizes the windows. "Of course, all the neighbors heard her howling, it would have taken only a few seconds to save her! " repeat the little man, his voice broken. The tree lawn separates from just ten meters two leprous buildings facing each other. In this small city, all families know each other. Despite the inquisitive eyes of the concierge, William Attal, kippah hidden under his cap, rings the doors. Most of them remain closed. The neighbors who agree to open him hesitate to speak. Some mumble embarrassed condolences, others confess half-word to be afraid. Many claim that they were not there the night of the murder. No one "Did not see or hear anything".

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The law of silence that reigns in the neighborhood echoes the media and political indifference that has long surrounded this assassination. It took seven weeks, the anger of some Jews and a press conference during which the lawyers denounced "A screed of lead", so that the generalist media are interested. In the middle of the presidential campaign, the latter only had eyes for François Fillon's wardrobe when it was not for Brigitte Macron's wardrobe. In the aftermath of the crime, AFP, recovery by The Parisian, evoked " the fall " of a Jewish woman, Claude Askolovitch spoke in his Slate column, from "This murdered old lady who panics the Jewish community". While Marine Le Pen, the only politician to denounce this crime, was still given in the first round by polls, community representatives tried to minimize the case. The Crif, who has since become a civil party, was then hunting for false rumors. It is true that the public prosecutor of ParisFrançois Molins had declared three days after the murder: "Nothing allows to retain the anti-Semitic character and nothing allows to exclude it. " Nevertheless, the facts, of an incredible violence, are not anecdotal. Far from being an ordinary crime, the murder of Sarah Halimi, by her extreme barbarity, her protagonists and her burning political context, is the symptom of a deep crisis of civilization.

"At first, I think it's an animal or a baby ..."

It is approximately 4.30 am when Kobili Traoré enters the F4 of his neighbor, located on the third floor. "A monster came into my sister's apartment in the middle of the night and followed what no human being can handle."says William Attal, his heart tight. No one knows if he surprised his victim in his sleep. However, it is likely that seeing the face of Kobili Traoré, Sarah Halimi immediately understood the fate he had for him. She knew her attacker. She had also told her son to be on guard and did not " breathe " than during prison stays of the latter. When he was not zoning in the neighborhood, Kobili Traoré was trading in the stairwells. "She would never have opened to him", say his relatives. But his attacker did not use the elevator. He passed by the apartment next to the building next door, that of the Diarra whose balcony adjoins that of Sarah Halimi. The Malian family comes from the same village as Kobili Traoré's parents. The father opens him. Everything happens then very quickly. The young man, barefoot, agitated and violent, seizes the key and closes the door behind him. He refuses to leave. Distraught, the Diarra and their four children barricade themselves in a room and call the police. Alone in the living room, Kobili Traoré recites suras from the Koran in Arabic: "It's going to be death"he concludes his invocation. A few minutes later, he is in apartment 45: Sarah Halimi's torture begins.

It will last about 40 minutes. The mess and bloodstains in the living room reveal a first outburst of violence. The scene continues on the balcony. According to the police investigation, several witnesses attend, paralyzed, the massacre. "The first thing that woke me up was moans of a living being in pain. It was torture. ", reports one of them, shocked by the bestiality of aggression. "At first, I think it's an animal or a baby. But then, opening the curtain and opening the window, I understand that it is a woman who moans under the blows she receives. Every time I hear a groan, it does not even have the force to scream. " Still, Kobili bumps and knocks again. He strikes so hard that his right fist is swollen. While he persecutes his victim, he describes it as sheitan ("Demon" in Arabic). He alternates " God is great " or "May god witness me" and insults: "You're going to shut up your mouth", "Big bitch". Then, there is silence. Kobili Traoré looks at his victim: "It's good, you move more? " he shoots him. Sarah Halimi is inert, but still alive. The lamps of the BAC police illuminate the courtyard. The police have been there for a while. They first positioned themselves behind the door of the Diarra family. But frightened by invocations in Arabic and fearing a terrorist attack, they call for BRI reinforcement to intervene. The killer understands that the police are there. " There is a woman who will commit suicide! " he cries as if to cover himself. He takes his victim by the wrists and raises it before tilting his body over the balcony. A neighbor records the fall with the dictaphone of his laptop. It's about 5:10 in the morning. Sarah Halimi lies dead in the courtyard. Her white nightgown with blue flowers and her unbleached dressing gown are nothing but scarlet rags.

This crime tells a story. The denial of the media and politics. Jews packing their bags. "Little Whites" forbidden to stay in certain neighborhoods.

Perfectly calm, Kobili Traoré returned to pray in the apartment of the family Diarra. A few hours after his arrest, which unfolds smoothly, he is automatically admitted to psychiatry without having been heard. On April 14, the Paris public prosecutor's office opens a judicial investigation for "intentional homicide". The antisemitic character was not retained. A decision that has angered his family and his lawyers for whom this aggravating circumstance is no doubt. Nor his premeditation. They demand today the requalification in assassination and that the aggravating circumstance with anti-Semitic character, as well as the sequestration, the acts of torture and barbarism are recognized. Kobili Traore could not ignore the Jewishness of Sarah Halimi. The retiree was a pious woman who wore the wig characteristic of orthodox Jews. His grandchildren came to visit him wearing a kippah. " She was known as the Jewess of the building »says William Attal. Five years ago, one of Sarah Halimi's two daughters, Elisheva, was jostled up the stairs by one of the abuser's sisters who had told her: "Dirty Jew! " On April 9, a few days after the death of Sarah Halimi, a white march was organized in Belleville in his memory. In the neighboring cities, the now traditional "Dead to the Jews! " and We, we have kalash! " have rocketed.

The Sarah Halimi affair is reminiscent of another Halimi affair. It was ten years ago. Ilan Halimi, 23, was kidnapped, tortured, left for dead by Youssouf Fofana, the leader of the barbarian gang, who said during his trial: "Now every Jew who walks in France says in his head that he can be kidnapped at any time. " Ilan and Sarah are not related, but both are buried in the Givat Shaul cemetery in Jerusalem. The assassination of Sarah Halimi also recalls another, more unknown, case of Sébastien Selam. In 2003, the 23-year-old DJ was slaughtered and stabbed by his step-parent and childhood friend. Adel Amastaibouwho declares immediately after the murder: " I killed a Jew! I will go to heaven », before insisting on the police: "It is Allah who wanted it. " Like Kobili Traoré, he will be placed in psychiatry. For this murder, he did not spend a single day in jail.

The Islamist dimension of the murder of Sarah Halimi also raises questions. Was the assassin "possessed", "marabouted", as his family claims? Or was he radicalized as the Halimi family's lawyer, Gilles-William Goldnadel, suspects? For the psychiatrists who examined him after his arrest, Kobili Traoré suffered from "Manifest mental disorders" incompatible with police custody. But Goldnadel refuses to believe the thesis of the dementia crisis. It is true that the murderer has no psychiatric history. "He has the profile of all violent radical Islamists: his criminal record is long as a day without bread, with multiple and varied convictions in drug and delinquency stories"he says. The day before the murder, Kobili spent his day at the Omar mosque, which he frequents sporadically. The prayer room on rue Jean-Pierre-Timbaud, a few steps from the rue de Vaucouleurs, has the reputation of being a temple of radical Islam. In 2014, she fed a jihadist sector in Afghanistan. "It's a killer factory", testifies a neighbor and friend of Sarah Halimi who wishes to remain anonymous. This Kabyle woman was not at home the night of the murder. For her, there is no possible doubt: this murder is linked to the "Terror" who reigns in the neighborhood. A terror that reminds him "The Algerian black decade". " Belleville began to transform about fifteen years ago "she explains. Offenders and bearded men have come together to impose their laws. "My daughter was called a bitch because she came home with her boyfriend, my son was assaulted because he has clear skin and blue eyes, if she strangles. When we are not like them, we are nothing! " For the past five years, she has begun to change her home, but to no avail. Similarly, the journalist Géraldine Smith thought to go after her dream of social mix by moving to Belleville twenty years ago. But diversity utopia has turned into a community nightmare. In his book, Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, a family life between bearded and sore, she describes the neighborhood as a Salafist enclave in the heart of the bohemian bourgeois Paris. The atmosphere has become heavy for the Muslims themselves.

"What are you still doing there? "

The Kadda are Sarah Halimi's next-door neighbors. They were in Morocco when she was murdered. They say they cried a lot when they heard the news. "If I had been there, I would have intervened with one of my sons", swears Father Kadda still upset. She was a woman who did not hurt a fly. We liked him a lot. For us, it was someone of the family. On Saturday, the Sabbath day, I sometimes went to light the gas at her house. " Like Sarah Halimi, the Kadda family settled in Belleville in the 1980s and saw the neighborhood change. "In the past, there was a real conviviality, explains Father Kadda who receives us in his Moroccan living room. Today, the young people smoke the shisha on the sidewalk, there are dealers on every corner. The worst is the passivity of the inhabitants. Yesterday, I saw a young man snatch the bag of an Asian woman, he jostled and dropped, but no one moved. " The Kadda raised their eight children in Belleville, all bac + 5. Now, it would not be possible. When they retire, they think they are leaving this neighborhood they no longer recognize, this France which is no longer France. Leaving was also the wish of Sarah Halimi, tired of living in fear. She was in regular discussions with her son Jonathan, who lives in Israel. A few hours before the fateful night, she spoke to her sister Beatrice, who made her aliyah, too. "What are you still doing there? " he had let go of this last, prophetic.

Antisemitic or not, premeditated or not, the assassination of Sarah Halimi tells a French story. That of a decomposition. The guilty silence of the media and politics. Jews packing their bags. "Little whites" forbidden to stay in certain neighborhoods. Poor people of all origins held hostage to communitarianism and Islamism, abandoned to themselves by a blind and helpless state. For Georges Bensoussan, this crime brings together all the ingredients of French malaise. " The Sarah Halimi affair is not only yet another illustration of "new" anti-Semitism (new, indeed, for almost twenty years ...), moreover it is emblematic of the muzzling of opinion by an intellectual oligarchy, media and financial that is actually a minority in the countryexplains the author of Lost territories of the Republic and D'A submissive FranceThis abandonment of the Jews seems emblematic of a wider abandonment of the working classes and the middle classes by ruling circles who seem to have abandoned the concepts of nation and people. Sarah Halimi's brother, whose father served in the French army, will leave the country "When all this will be over". William Attal says the same thing with other words. "France was a beautiful country, but what happened in Belleville is what will happen in the whole of France. "

Source: © Sarah Halimi: A French History | conversationalist

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