Friday, February 24, 2006

French Jew murdered by Anti-Semites 

Chirac, de Villepin attend memorial ceremony for slain Jewish youth

By Goel Pinto
Fri., February 24, 2006 Shvat 26, 5766

"PARIS - Cries of "vive la France" and "la justice" accompanied President Jacques Chirac, his wife Bernadette and Premier Dominique de Villepin last night as they left the memorial evening held here yesterday for Ilan Halimi.

The ceremony, which was held in the Grand Synagogue on rue de la Victoire, was seen by many in the Jewish community as the state leaders' formal declaration that anti-Semitism was to blame for the horrific kidnapping, torture and murder of the 23-year-old Parisian.

At 5 P.M., two hours before the ceremony's official opening, police cars surrounded the synagogue area. Police at roadblocks inspected the bag of everyone who entered the area. Hundreds of thousands of people crowded on either side of the street, waiting their turn to enter the synagogue. At the synagogue's entrance police used metal detectors and checked the identity cards and passports of all who pushed in.

The synagogue's 3,000 seats were full, dozens more mourners stood in the aisles and many thousands remained outside and could not get in.

During the chilling ceremony, an 8-year-old read the Psalm "I will raise my eyes to the mountains, whence will come my help?" near a giant picture of Halimi.

Halimi's family and others in the Jewish community said that had the authorities admitted earlier that the young man had been attacked for being a Jew, he could possibly have been saved.

Halimi was found dying, covered with burns and cuts, on Monday February 13. He had been kidnapped three weeks earlier, after a Muslim gang sent a blonde to seduce him. Halimi had agreed to meet with her after meeting in a chat room. Immediately after his abduction his mother went to the police, saying he was kidnapped by anti-Semites. Sources in the community said three Jewish youngsters had managed to escape similar abdications in recent months.

The police told Halimi's mother, Ruth, to stop all telephone connection with the kidnappers, as a way of forcing them to use electronic mail, which was traceable.

The police did not know that during the five days in which the kidnappers tried in vain to contact Halimi's family, Halimi suffered terrible torture. One of the kidnappers said, "We put our cigarettes out on him because he was a Jew."

A few days after Halimi was found, the Paris public prosecutor, Jean-Claude Marin, told the media that the murder was a criminal event, and "no element of the current investigation could link this murder to an anti-Semitic declaration or action."

The reports about Halimi in France did not mention that he was Jewish. Halimi's family was livid. His mother accused the authorities of ignoring the anti-Semitic factor. "Had Ilan not been Jewish, he would not have been murdered," she said. She was widely quoted in the French media, and the authorities began to retreat.

On Tuesday French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said that "the murder had anti-Semitic motives." "They kidnapped and murdered him because he was Jewish - in their words, the Jews have money," he said.

This coming Sunday a huge procession in his memory is scheduled to take place in Paris. Jewish organizations, French political parties and anti-violence groups are to join in the demonstration.

Assaf Uni also contributed to this report."


The grisly murder of Ilan Halimi should concern the entire Jewish world.

From aish.com
29 Shevat 5766 / 27 February 2006

"The highest echelons of the French government -- led by President Jacques Chirac and Premier Dominique DeVillepin -- went out of their way Thursday night to express sympathy and solidarity with their country's Jews, following the torture and murder of Ilan Halimi. Their attendance of memorial services at Paris's Victoire Synagogue for the 23-year-old victim constituted the most unequivocal and authoritative admission that Halimi fell prey to a horrid hate crime.

The knee-jerk inclination of French officialdom, however, was refusal to categorize this as an anti-Semitic homicide. Initially there even was reluctance to note the Jewish identity of the victim.

The discovery of the dying Halimi near rail tracks in the Paris suburb of St. Genevieve on February 13 sent shock waves throughout France. The cell phone salesman was found handcuffed, gagged, battered, slashed and with burns over most of his naked body. He had obviously been tortured to death.

The interrogation of the since-apprehended gang, which abducted and then for three weeks held Halimi for ransom -- before, as French police report, dousing him with flammable liquid and setting him alight -- indicated that greed wasn't the sole motive.

A pretty young woman lured Halimi from the store in which he was employed. He was kept naked, bound and hooded, subjected throughout to gruesome torments. The kidnappers, who demanded ransom, were told that the family was far from wealthy. They replied that funds be elicited "from the synagogue," because "all Jews are rich." The French-Arab and African-Muslim ringleaders also recited verses from the Koran in their communications with the family.
French interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed that the perpetrators "were convinced that 'Jews have money'... That's called anti-Semitism by conflation." He added that four of six persons the same gang attempted to capture were also Jews.

Sarkozy revealed that some suspects possessed extreme Islamic and pro-Palestinian literature and documents. What they confessed to the police further confirmed the apprehension that Halimi was subjected to barbaric abuse because he was a Jew.
The grisly attack came at a time in which some French higher-ups boasted that they had beaten back the anti-Semitic tide that accompanied the 2000 intifada. Indeed the French government oversaw a dramatic drop in anti-Jewish incidents. Reportedly the number of anti-Semitic assaults in France for 2005 is 47% below that of 2004. In this respect the French approach and record is better than that of other European states.

But this clearly isn't the whole story. Physical attacks are only one expression of the distress experienced by French Jews, many of whom live in close proximity to Muslim immigrants (estimated at 12% of the population). Jewish children in public schools are frequently bullied by Arab classmates. It's almost impossible to teach the Holocaust in schools with large Arab/Muslim student bodies.

In certain urban French neighborhoods it's risky for Jews to wear skullcaps. Many French Muslims regard local Jews, their houses of worship and communal institutions fair game in their attempts to wreak vengeance on Israel. This indeed is something for Israelis to ponder. The Jewish state's enemies often consider all Jews legitimate targets, as the 1994 blast in Buenos Aires's AMIA Jewish Community Center (which claimed 86 lives) demonstrated on a tragic scale.

France was late in combating the "collective punishment" meted by some Muslims on their Jewish neighbors. It first turned a blind eye to numerous anti-Semitic outbreaks, insisting that "there is no anti-Semitism in France." Jews were essentially requested not to bother the authorities.

Official downplaying of rampant anti-Semitism between 2000-2003 left deep emotional scars in the Jewish community. The Halimi murder and the initial disinclination to treat it as a hate crime reopened many old wounds. DeVillepin promised "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" about the crime that alarmed France's Jews. He will have to convince them, but not only them.

Anti-Semitism in Paris isn't just an internal French matter. It should concern all of us in the Jewish state. We mustn't be wary of speaking up lest we offend French sensibilities. Ariel Sharon didn't shrink a few years back from calling on French Jews to make aliya. Our government's concern over the Halimi murder should be conveyed directly to the French government at the highest levels, and our solidarity more emphatically shown with the embattled French Jewish community.

Reprinted with permission from the Jerusalem Post."


Tens of thousands march in Paris to protest Halimi murder

By Amiram Barkat, Haaretz Correspondent, and News Agencies
Tue., February 28, 2006 Shvat 30, 5766

Tens of thousands of people marched through Paris yesterday in memory of Ilan Halimi, who was kidnapped, tortured and killed two weeks ago in an attack that authorities say was partly motivated by anti-Semitism.

Police sources said Sunday that they believe the gang that kidnapped Halimi had actually decided to release him, but murdered him instead because he accidentally glimpsed some of their faces.

Numerous French politicians joined the march, which was organized by the local Jewish community, including Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy and Francois Hollande, the head of France's Socialist Party. Leaders of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities marched side by side. Organizers estimated that 100,000 people participated in the demonstration, but police put the number at 30,000.

There were no speeches during the march, but demonstrators carried signs denouncing racism and anti-Semitism.

The organizers had decided against inviting Jean-Marie Le Pen, the head of the far-right National Front party, to participate in the demonstration, due to sharp opposition from leftist organizations and human rights groups. Philippe de Villiers, the head of another far-right party, the Movement for France (known by its French initials MPF), did try to attend, but he was greeted with cries of "racist" and removed by the guards.

Roger Cukierman, who heads the umbrella organization of France's Jewish community, CRIF, expressed satisfaction with the results of the rally.

"It's important for French society to recognize that small racist and anti-Semitic prejudices can have terrible and dreadful consequences," he said in an interview with Radio Europe 1.

Pierre Besnainou, the president of the European Jewish Congress and another leading member of the French Jewish community, expressed similar satisfaction.

"We invited all the democratic forces in France," he told Haaretz, adding that he attributed particular importance to the fact that so many non-Jews participated in the march. "What is important to us is to send the message that an injury to a Jewish citizen of France is an injury to all of France."

Thousands of people also attended smaller demonstrations in Nice, Lyon and other major French cities Sunday. In addition, some 200 people attended a solidarity demonstration in Jerusalem, organized by the Association of French Immigrants.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that Halimi's murder "proves that anti-Semitism is not just an issue for the Jewish people and for Israel; it also affects the society in which it exists."

The French police have thus far arrested 12 suspects in Halimi's murder, and France is preparing to request the extradition of the gang's suspected ringleader, Youssouf Fofana, from Ivory Coast, where he was arrested last week. A 14th suspect is still at large.


French Murder Victim Re-Buried in Jerusalem.

Hundreds attend reinterment of murdered French Jew

By Amiram Barkat, Haaretz Correspondent
Fri., February 09, 2007 Shvat 21, 5767

Hundreds of people participated in a reinterment ceremony in Jerusalem for Ilan Halimi, a 23-year-old French Jew kidnapped and fatally tortured by a gang last year.

Halimi was laid to rest at the Givat Shaul cemetery in Jerusalem.

When Halimi's kidnappers were arrested, they told French police they had selected a Jewish victim because they believed Jews are wealthy.

The decision to reinter Halimi in Israel was made by his mother Ruth, following a conversation with Jewish Agency Chairman Zeev Bielsky.

The funeral will be held on the anniversary of his murder, according to the Hebrew date. His mother and two sisters will attend, as well as Absorption Minister Zeev Boim, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and the Chief Rabbi of France, Yosef Sitruk, as well as senior officials of Jewish organizations in Europe and the U.S. and from the Jewish Agency.

France will be represented by French Ambassador to Israel Jean-Michel Casa.

Halimi, a resident of a Parisian suburb, was lured by a young woman who entered the shop where he worked and persuaded him to meet her in another suburb, where he was kidnapped by a gang of youths, most of them immigrants. The abductors held Halimi hostage for three days and tortured him.

Once the kidnappers concluded that the victim's parents were unable to pay the ransom they demanded, they dumped Halimi, who was found but died of his wounds on his way to hospital.

The case shocked the 500,000-strong Jewish community in France and the general public.

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The gang that kidnapped, tortured and brutally murdered Ilan Halimi, 23, had threatened several prominent businessmen, lawyers and a well-known humanitarian activist, a French newspaper reported Saturday. The daily Liberation reported that the group behind the murder, which authorities have linked to anti-Semitism, tried to extort money from a founder of Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders. Also targeted were the director of the Arte TV channel, a Paris lawyer and the head of a supermarket chain, the newspaper reported, citing police officials.

Police investigating the murder of Halimi earlier this month have made several arrests. The suspected gang leader, was arrested Wednesday in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, and France is seeking his extradition. Fourteen people have been placed under investigation - a step short of being charged - in the case, and two more people were detained Friday for questioning.

Ilan Halimi was abducted on January 21 after a woman came into the mobile phone store where he worked and charmed him into a dinner date. The first break in the case came after the police released an Identikit image of the woman suspected of "baiting" Halimi. After turning herself in our of fears that neighbors would identify her, the woman claimed that she was indeed asked to seduce a number of young men, but was unaware of the act's purpose. She identified the apartment where Halimi had been kept.

Halimi was found on February 13, tied to a tree, naked, wounded, handcuffed, gagged and covered with burn and cut marks on 80 percent of his body. Authorities found Halimi near railroad tracks in the Essonne region south of Paris a few days after the kidnappers ended contact with Halimmi's family. He died en route to a hospital.

"They acted with indescribable cruelty," the judiciary police chief leading the investigation said. "They kept him naked and tied up for weeks. They cut him and in the end poured flammable liquid on him and set him alight."

Halimi's family received a series of ransom demands - starting with one for nearly $537,000. Ilan Halimi's mother revealed to the Haaretz newspaper that the police told the family to ignore the gang's attempts to contact them for five critical days, after which Ilan was found near death outside the city. "Five days before Ilan was found, the police told us, 'Don't answer the phone, don't repond to text messages.' We saw dozens of calls and ignored them. On Thursday they found Ilan dead."

"We think there is anti-Semitism in this affair," Rafi Halimi, Ilan's uncle, told the press.

"First, because the killers tried to kidnap at least two other Jews, and second, because of what they said on the phone," Rafi Halimi added. "When we said we didn't have 500,000 euros to give them they told us to go to the synagogue and get it," Rafi said. "They also recited verses from the Koran."

Under questioning by investigators, one of the suspects "made it clear that he had attacked Ilan Halimi 'because he was Jewish, and Jews are rich".

"If Ilan hadn't been Jewish, he wouldn't have been murdered," Ilan's mom said. She accuses the police of ignoring the anti-Semitic motivation in the case in order not to alienate Muslims, Haaretz reported.

According to a recent article on this subject by Caroline Glick, she states, "It appears that Ilan Halimi's murderers had some connection to Hamas. Tuesday, French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said that police found propaganda published by the Palestinian Charity Committee or the CBSP at the home of one of the suspects. The European Jewish Press reported this week that Israel has alleged that the organization is a front group for Palestinian terrorists and that in August 2003 the US government froze the organization's US bank accounts, accusing it of links with Hamas."

It is clear that the French authorities remain callous and indifferent when it comes to Jews being murdered on their soil or anywhere else. This attitude was evidenced in their initial denial that anti-Semitism played a role in this murder and their expressed policy of ignoring any evidence of anti-Semitism.

This may be the first act of Hamas terrorism directed against a Jew outside of Israel, but clearly it won't be the last. Everyday, we are being saturated with the anti-Semitic diatribes of an Iranian President named Ahmadnajed, of Hamas leaders and leading intellectuals. We can no longer deny it. Anti-Semitism is in full swing. It can only get worse.
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