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On April 4, in an HLM in Belleville, Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old Jewish retiree, was tortured, then defenestrated to cries of "Allah akbar" by Kobili Traoré, her 27-year-old neighbor. The barbarism of the crime has been aggravated by weeks of media and political denial, and by the refusal to mention the anti-Semitic hypothesis. Investigation.

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

« Doesn't killing a Jew in France matter? » This question has haunted William Attal for almost two months. Since that tragic night when her big sister was murdered at her home by Kobili Traoré, her 27-year-old neighbor. Sarah Halimi, 65, was a mother of three children. This divorced former nursery director, 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, then thrown out of the window from the third floor to cries of " God is great ". In the inner courtyard of 26 rue de Vaucouleurs where his body was discovered lifeless, his brother scrutinizes the windows. “Inevitably, all the neighbors heard her scream, it would have taken only a few seconds to save her! » repeats the little man, his voice broken. The wooded lawn barely ten meters apart two leprous buildings facing each other. In this small town, all the families know each other. Despite the concierge's inquisitive gaze, William Attal, yarmulke hidden under his cap, rings the doorbell. Most of these remain closed. Neighbors who agree to open the door are reluctant to speak. Some mumble embarrassed condolences, others half-wordly admit to being afraid. Many claim they weren't there the night of the murder. Nobody "didn't 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 general media are interested in it. In the middle of the presidential campaign, the latter had eyes only for the wardrobe of François Fillon when it was not for that of Brigitte Macron. In the aftermath of the crime, AFP, by recovery Le Parisien, evoked " the fall " of a Jewish woman, Claude Askolovitch spoke in his Slate column, “this murdered old lady who is panicking the Jewish community”. While Marine Le Pen, the only politician to denounce this crime, was still given the lead in the first round by the polls, community representatives tried to minimize the affair. The Crif, which has since brought a civil action, was then hunting for false rumors. It is true that the public prosecutor of Paris, François Molins, said three days after the murder: “Nothing allows us to retain the anti-Semitic character and nothing allows us to exclude it. » The fact remains that the facts, of incredible violence, are not anecdotal. Far from being an ordinary crime, the murder of Sarah Halimi, by its extreme barbarism, its protagonists and its 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 around 4:30 a.m. when Kobili Traoré enters his neighbor's F4, located on the third floor. "A monster entered my sister's apartment in the middle of the night and followed what no human being can bear", explains William Attal, with a heavy heart. No one knows if he surprised his victim in his sleep. However, it is likely that seeing Kobili Traoré's face, Sarah Halimi immediately understood the fate he had in store for her. She knew her attacker. She had also told her son to be on her guard and not " to breathe " than during his stays in prison. When he was not wandering around the neighborhood, Kobili Traoré was dealing in the stairwells. “She would never have opened to him”, say his relatives. But her attacker did not take the elevator. He went through the apartment next door to the building next door, that of the Diarra whose balcony adjoins that of Sarah Halimi. The Malian family hails from the same village as Kobili Traoré's parents. The father opens it. Everything then happens very quickly. The young man, barefoot, agitated and violent, grabs the key and double-locks the door behind him. He refuses to leave. Distraught, the Diarras 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 ordeal begins.

It will last about 40 minutes. The disorder and the traces of blood in the living room reveal an initial 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 the moans of a living being in pain. It was torture. », reports one of them, shocked by the bestiality of the aggression. “At first, I think it's an animal or a baby. But afterwards, by opening the curtain and opening the window, I understand that it is a woman who is moaning under the blows she receives. With each blow, I hear a moan, she doesn't even have the strength to cry out. » Yet Kobili knocks and knocks again. He hits so hard that his right fist is swollen. As he harasses his victim, he calls her a sheitan ("demon" in Arabic). He alternates the " God is great " ou “God be my witness” and insults: "You're going to shut your mouth", "big bitch". Then there is silence. Kobili Traoré looks at his victim: "It's good, are you moving anymore?" » he throws at her. Sarah Halimi is inert, but still alive. The lamps of the police officers of the BAC illuminate the courtyard. The police have already been there for some time. They first positioned themselves behind the door of the Diarra family. But frightened by the invocations in Arabic and fearing a terrorist attack, they call for BRI reinforcements to intervene. The assassin understands that the police are there. « There is a woman who is going to commit suicide! » he shouts as if to cover himself. He takes his victim by the wrists and lifts her before tipping her body over the balcony. A neighbor records the fall with the voice recorder on his cell phone. It's about 5:10 in the morning. Sarah Halimi lies dead in the yard. Her white nightgown with blue flowers and her ecru dressing gown are now only scarlet rags.

This crime tells a story. That of the denial of the media and politicians. Jews packing their bags. “Little whites” banned from staying in certain neighborhoods.

Perfectly calm, Kobili Traoré returned to pray in the Diarra family apartment. A few hours after his arrest, which went smoothly, he was automatically committed to psychiatry without having been heard. On April 14, the Paris prosecutor's office opens a judicial investigation for "intentional homicide". The anti-Semitic character was not retained. A decision that triggered the anger of his family and his lawyers for whom this aggravating circumstance is beyond doubt. Nor his premeditation. They are now demanding reclassification as murder and recognition of the aggravating circumstance of an anti-Semitic nature, as well as kidnapping, acts of torture and barbarism. Kobili Traoré could not ignore Sarah Halimi's Jewishness. The retiree was a pious woman who wore the characteristic wig of Orthodox Jews. His grandsons came to visit him wearing a yarmulke. « She was known as the Jewess of the building”, explains William Attal. Five years ago, one of Sarah Halimi's two daughters, Elisheva, had been pushed down the stairs by one of the attacker's sisters who had thrown at 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 towns, the now traditional "Death to the Jews!" » and " We have the 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 around France thinks in his head that he can be kidnapped at any time. » Ilan and Sarah are unrelated, but are both buried in Givat Shaul Cemetery in Jerusalem. The assassination of Sarah Halimi is also reminiscent of another, less well-known case, that of Sebastien Selam. In 2003, this DJ, also 23 years old, had his throat cut and then disfigured with a knife by his next-door neighbor and childhood friend, Adel Amastaibou, who states immediately after the murder: « I killed a Jew! I will go to heaven", before insisting in front of the police: “It is Allah who willed it. » Like Kobili Traoré, he will be placed in psychiatry. For this murder, he did not serve a single day in prison.

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 lawyer Gilles-William Goldnadel suspects? For the psychiatrists who examined him after his arrest, Kobili Traoré suffered from "obvious mental disorder" incompatible with custody. But Goldnadel refuses to believe in the dementia crisis thesis. It is true that the assassin has no psychiatric history. "He has the profile of all violent radical Islamists: his criminal record is as long as a day without bread, with multiple and varied convictions in stories of drugs and delinquency", he observes. The day before the murder, Kobili spent his day at the Mosque of Omar, which he frequents sporadically. The prayer room on rue Jean-Pierre-Timbaud, a few steps from rue de Vaucouleurs, has the reputation of being a temple of radical Islam. From 2014, it fed a chain of jihadists in Afghanistan. "It's a factory of killers", testifies a neighbor and friend of Sarah Halimi who wishes to remain anonymous. This woman of Kabyle origin was not at home the night of the murder. For her, there is no possible doubt: this assassination is linked to the "terror" that prevails in the neighborhood. A terror that reminds him “the Algerian black decade”. « Belleville began to transform itself about fifteen years ago”, she explains. Delinquents and bearded men have joined forces to impose their laws. “My daughter was called a whore for coming home with her boyfriend, my son was attacked because he has light skin and blue eyes, she gasps. When we are not like them, we are nothing! » For five years, she has taken steps to change housing, in vain. Similarly, journalist Géraldine Smith thought she was going to achieve her dream of social diversity by settling in Belleville twenty years ago. But the diverse utopia has turned into a community nightmare. In his book, Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, a family life between bearded men and bobos, 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 Kaddas 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 the still upset Kadda father. She was a woman who didn't hurt a fly. We liked him very much. For us, it was someone from the family. On Saturday, the Sabbath day, I happened to go and light the gas at her house. » Like Sarah Halimi, the Kadda family moved to 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, young people smoke shisha on the sidewalk, there are dealers on every street corner. The worst is the passivity of the inhabitants. Yesterday I saw a young man snatch the bag of an Asian woman, he pushed her and knocked her down, but no one moved. » The Kaddas raised their eight children in Belleville, all of them with a high school diploma. From now on, that would no longer be possible. When they retire, they think of leaving this district which they no longer recognize, this France which is no longer France. Leaving was also Sarah Halimi's wish, tired of living in fear. She discussed it regularly with her son Jonathan who lives in Israel. A few hours before the fateful night, she spoke about it to her sister Béatrice, who also made aliyah. "What are you still doing there?" » had dropped the latter, prophetic.

Anti-Semitic or not, premeditated or not, the assassination of Sarah Halimi tells a French story. That of a decomposition. Of the guilty silence of the media and politicians. Jews packing their bags. “Little whites” banned from staying in certain neighborhoods. Poor people of all origins held hostage to communitarianism and Islamism, abandoned to themselves by a blind and impotent 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, really? for nearly twenty years…), even more is it emblematic of the muzzling of public opinion by an intellectual oligarchy, media and finance which is actually a minority in the country, explains the author of Republic Lost Territories and D'A submissive FranceThis abandonment of the Jews seems emblematic of a broader abandonment of the working classes and the middle classes by ruling circles which 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 this is all over". William Attal says the same with other words. “France was a magnificent country, but what happened in Belleville is what will happen throughout France. »

Source: © Sarah Halimi: A French Story | talker

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