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Alain Finkielkraut, Michel Onfray, Jacques Julliard, Elisabeth Badinter

French intellectuals accuse government of covering up hate crime

A group of famous French intellectuals have accused French authorities of covering up the brutal murder of a Parisian woman by her Muslim neighbour. The letter questions the Paris Prosecutor's Office for omitting hate crime charges from a draft indictment against the suspect.

Published: July 25, 2017, 9:52 am

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    The crime, particularly barbaric, which took place in the middle of the French presidential campaign, received little attention from the media.

    Kobili Traoré a 27-year-old Muslim from Mali, tortured 66-year-old Sarah Halimi to death on April 4. After Traoré tortured his victim, he threw her out of her third-story apartment.

    A European Parliament member and 17 prominent French intellectuals protested the omission in the draft indictment. Frédérique Ries, a lawmaker from Belgium, said French authorities ignored the severity of the crime.

    “French authorities have treated her murder with icy silence,” Ries said. Traoré, who had no history of mental illness, was placed at a psychiatric institution and has not been charged with a hate crime despite evidence suggesting he killed Halimi because of religious reasons.

    “No national mobilisation for Sarah, she died as the media remained quasi-indifferent.” The group cited a recording of the incident made by another neighbour. In it, Traoré can be heard shouting “Allahu Akbar”. Some observers believe the authorities covered up Halimi’s murder to prevent it from helping Marine Le Pen’s presidential campaign.

    Alain Finkielkraut, Michel Onfray, Jacques Julliard, Elisabeth Badinter, Marcel Gauchet and other personalities have called for more transparency on the death of Halimi.

    Halimi, a mother of three and a retiree, was tortured in her home. The victim had lived in an HLM in the Belleville district for about thirty years. That night, her neighbour Traoré, went into her house around four in the morning, assaulted and abused her.

    According to the Tribune Juive weekly, Traoré was heard shouting “Allahu Akbar,”, calling Sarah “Satan” and calmly praying after her killing. “Everything about this crime suggests there is an ongoing denial of reality” by authorities, the intellectuals said.

    Traoré, a drug dealer, and a drug addict, knocked at the door and entered by force into the apartment of a neighbouring family. The attacker seemed so agitated and aggressive that the entire family, who came to France from Mali, locked themselves in the bedroom and the father called the police. Through the door, they said they could hear the intruder reciting verses of the Quran.

    Three policemen responded to the father’s call 13 minutes later but apparently entered the wrong building. In the meantime, the attacker had stepped over the balcony and climbed into Sarah Halimi’s apartment, which was situated in the neighbouring building.

    At 4:45, police received a second call from a neighbour describing “a man beating up his wife” behind the front window. “It is an older woman,” he said, “and she seems to suffer a lot.” Neighbours awakened by the terrified screams were also watching. One testified that the beating looked “bestial”. Others said they heard Kobili shouting “Allahu akbar,” “shut your mouth,” and “you sheitan!” (Satan).

    Six policemen waited outside the Malian family’s door, and afraid that they faced a terror attack, waited for an elite squad to intervene instead of helping the victim. When reinforcements finally arrived around 5, it was too late: Sarah Halimi had been thrown out of her window, her face and body badly bruised by the severe beating she had suffered.

    Through the balcony again, her murderer went back to the Malian family again and resumed his praying. He was arrested there, still praying, at 5:35 and did not offer resistance.

    The Halimi family is now calling for a requalification of the murder as a terrorist act with torture and hate as an aggravating circumstance.

    As the public debate rages in France, British Indian author Sir Salman Rushdie, in an interview with French magazine L’Obs, blamed European leaders for refusing to see the reality of the origins of jihadism:

    “I am in fundamental disagreement with these left-wing people who do everything to dissociate fundamentalism from Islam. Islam has been radicalized for fifty years. On the Shiite side, there was Imam Khomeini and his Islamic revolution. In the Sunni world, there was Saudi Arabia, which used its immense resources to finance the spread of this fanaticism of Wahhabism. But this historical evolution took place within Islam and not outside. When the people of the Islamic State attack, they do it by saying ‘Allahu Akbar.’ So how can we then say that this has nothing to do with Islam? It must be stopped.”

    Rushdie is the object of an Islamic death sentence for alleged blasphemy in his 1988 best-selling novel The Satanic Verses.

    Meanwhile the mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, last month banned Noorassur, a local insurance broker, from hanging a sign with the words “Islamic finance” because it “poses a high risk of disturbing public order.” Estrosi said the sign was placed in close proximity to the Promenade des Anglais, the site of the July 14, 2016 jihadist attack.

    He said it could be seen as a provocation. Bit Noorassur’s founder, Sonia Mariji, has filed a lawsuit against the city. “If Islamic finance is not incompatible with the Republic,” she said. “I am the fruit of the Republic.” Her lawyer accused Estrosi of “conveying the idea that Islamic finance is linked to Islamist terrorism.”

    Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo is also facing mounting anger for allowing large areas of the city to become a no-go zone for women. Hidalgo has repeatedly denied that there are no-go zones in Paris, and in January 2015 she threatened to file a lawsuit against Fox News for “harming the honor of Paris” after it reported on such zones.

    Every night, hundreds of migrants from Africa and the Middle East intimidate women walking from the Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est railway stations to their homes, a petition drafted against the mayor stated.

    “As a woman you start adopting defensive measures. You don’t go here or there. Avoid certain routes. Take your kids to school another way. I stopped going to my tobacconist and some cafes because suddenly there were only men inside. I have to ask the teenage drug dealers politely to step aside in the foyer just so I can get to my own front door…. You get used to averting your eyes from streams of urine and pools of spittle…to lowering your head… to walking alone… to feeling fear, great, great fear because you dared to speak out.”

    Pierre Liscia, a conservative councilor, said that city officials were only concerned about the Paris bid for the 2024 Olympics: “The cynical thing is that last month a vast clean-up operation was launched when the Olympic committee came to visit for an inspection ahead of the Games. They moved out 1,600 people in 24 hours. I find it contemptible that the mayor’s office acted only when there was media attention.”

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