In July, the French president Emmanuel Macron declared that “the judiciary must shed full light” on the murder of a Parisian Jew named Sarah Halimi, who was brutalized and killed by a Muslim neighbor on April 4 while he recited verses of the Quran and called her “Satan.” Macron’s comment, writes Michel Gurfinkiel, was a refreshing change after seemingly systematic attempts by France’s government and press to downplay the crime—attempts that still continue. The story begins with the police, who, thanks to a phone call from one of the killer’s relatives, arrived before he even entered his victim’s apartment but did not intervene until after she was dead:
Some [witnesses] gave details about the exact location of the assault, the attacker’s identity, the fact he vilified his victim as a Jew and as “a Satan” while hitting her, or even—as far as the Muslim neighbors were concerned—the Quranic verses he chanted. Yet the police still failed to storm Sarah Halimi’s apartment and rescue her. . . .
The behavior of the police was strange enough throughout this tragic night. Further questions were soon to be raised about the handling of the case. First, while the murder and its circumstances were reported almost instantly within the Jewish community and by the press agency AFP, the mainstream media didn’t mention it at all for two days. . . . Likewise, very little was shown or said about a protest march by 1,000 people in the neighborhood on April 9. Considering the enormity of the crime, the reporting remained bafflingly low-key. . . .
No less disturbing was the public officials’ silence. French members of the cabinet or government officials usually react to such crimes ex officio. Some may even take a more personal stand. . . . No such reactions occurred after Sarah Halimi’s murder, even though the minister of the interior granted an emergency audience to the leaders of the Jewish community. . . .
Third, there is the legal angle. The issue of the attacker’s sanity, and thus of his responsibility [for the crime], was left undecided for more than four months, and is still pending. . . . More disturbingly, the investigative judge, Anne Ihuelu, has declined to charge [the killer] with anti-Semitic motivations.