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Journalist investigates wholesale denial of pivotal anti-Semitic murder in Paris
Six weeks earlier, during France’s presidential election campaign, Halimi, a 65-year-old Orthodox Jewish woman, was savagely murdered in her Paris apartment by a neighbor. Kobili Traoré, a 27-year-old Muslim immigrant from Mali, beat Halimi repeatedly before throwing her off the balcony into a courtyard three floors below. Neighbors reported hearing her screams for mercy while Traoré shouted verses from the Quran and “Allahu Akbar,” the Arabic phrase Islamic terrorists often holler when carrying out attacks.
Initially, the murder was largely ignored by France’s non-Jewish media. A brief item in a Paris newspaper had reported an elderly woman died after falling off her balcony in a tragic accident. Critics charged this lack of objective coverage arose out of fear of encouraging popular support for the anti-immigrant National Front’s election campaign.
For Halioua, and for other French Jews, the name of this latest victim harked back to another notorious Halimi affair. In 2006, Ilan Halimi, a 23-year-old Paris resident, was kidnapped, tortured and murdered by a criminal gang, led by a radical Islamist, that targeted their victim because he was Jewish. Only later, in the face of incontrovertible evidence, did French authorities finally acknowledge the anti-Semitic motivation of the killers of Halimi (no relation to Sarah).
French authorities also needed much persuasion to label this new Halimi case a hate crime.