How Political Correctness Led Official France to Attempt a Cover-Up of Sarah Halimi’s Murder

June 8, 2021 | Michel Gurfinkiel
About the author: Michel Gurfinkiel is the founder and president of the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute, a conservative think-tank in France, and a Shillman/Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum. His “You Only Live Twice,” on the contemporary situation of European Jews, appeared in Mosaic in August 2013.

In Paris in 2017, Kobili Traore murdered his sixty-five-year-old Jewish neighbor, Sarah Halimi, after beating her for at least 30 minutes while reciting Quranic verses and shouting anti-Semitic epithets. This was not the first time anti-Semitic violence, now frequent, turned deadly in 21st-century Paris; it wasn’t even the first such incident in the 11th arrondissement. But what shocked French Jews, and eventually a wider segment of the French public, was the way the media and then the courts treated the case. Michel Gurfinkiel writes:

Instead of prompt justice, a process of cover-up and procrastination set in. While the murder was instantly reported by Agence France-Press and within the Jewish community, the mainstream media ignored it for two full days and then barely mentioned it for seven weeks. . . . The judicial investigation and prosecution was equally troubling. Kobili Traore was not sent to jail on a preventive basis, which is almost automatically the rule in France for all manner of crimes, but rather to psychiatric hospitals. On April 7, François Molins, the public prosecutor in charge of the case, declined “for the time being” to characterize it as “anti-Semitic.”

Psychiatric experts were consulted over and over again, as if the prosecuting judiciary would not be content with anything less than an exonerating opinion, which they finally obtained: the use of [marijuana], the experts conceded, might have “momentarily” altered Traore’s mental perceptions, thus rendering him unaccountable in court. By contrast, the fact that Traore had spent the . . . preceding day praying at a local Salafist mosque was not taken into consideration. Likewise, no crime reconstruction—again, a quasi-automatic practice in France—was done.

Political correctness may have been . . . crucial in the Sarah Halimi case. . . . [T]he murder took place in between the presidential election’s two ballots. While Macron stood well ahead of his only challenger, the far-right leader Marine Le Pen, in every opinion poll, some people, unbeknownst to Macron, may have been afraid that the brutal assassination of an elderly Jewish lady by a young African Muslim would vindicate Le Pen’s anti-immigration platform. Hence, perhaps, a move to sweep the news under the carpet, at least until the second ballot.

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