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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Murder of Ilan Halimi

This story is frightening. Reading this story, I have to wonder why Jews stay in France.

... Little by little, information emerged about the crime. There were at least fifteen thugs, maybe more. They had used a girl to seduce Halimi into the trap where he was captured. They knew he was a Jew and they had chosen him for that reason. In his pocket they found the phone number of a rabbi and he was the first person they called, telling him: "We have a Jew. The family has to pay. If the family cannot pay, it will be the synagogue." In succeeding days, they called the rabbi again, howling sentences full of hatred. Later, they called the family, asking for $600,000, before lowering the price to $5,000. They spoke to the mother, to Halimi’s sisters, uncle, and father. When they were not asking for money, they were reciting suras from the Quran. In some of the conversations it was possible to hear Halimi screaming in the background. The thugs sent a videotape showing the young man naked, humiliated, handcuffed, just like on a Zarqawi videos from Iraq.

They called many times, but the police, stating later that "technical problems" kept them from tracing the calls, told the family to stop answering the phone and to stop negotiations with the kidnappers. The police also claimed that there was "no anti-Semitism involved." When the judge learned almost all the details about the case, he did not speak about anti semitism either. But as the case became news all over France, the motive became really obvious to deny any longer and the judge finally declared, "anti-Semitism is involved." Some politicians started using the word too. A ceremony was organized in the main Paris synagogue and deputies and ministers came. Jacques Chirac, who only three years ago had insisted that "anti-Semitism does not exist in France even showed up. A protest against the hideous crime was organized a few days later, but political correctness had already won out: the protest was mostly against racism in general, not the specific pathology that had claimed Halimi’s life. "It's necessary to avoid tensions between communities," declared one of the organizers. There were some Muslims at the protest--fifteen, maybe twenty out of 30,000.

In the days since the dying Halimi was discovered, some journalists have been making ugly discoveries. The gang of thugs (they called themselves "the Barbarians") had sequestered the young man in an apartment that had been rented by the doorman of the building

The screams must have been loud because the torture was especially atrocious: the thugs cut bits off the flesh of the young man, they cut his fingers and ears, they burned him with acid, and in the end poured flammable liquid on him and set him on fire.

The head of the gang, Fofana, was arrested in a brothel in Abijan, Ivory Coast. He had been able to leave France freely, without being stopped at the border. He spoke to a French TV channel while in Abijan. He was smiling at the camera and eating a good lunch. He said he was not anti-Semitic; he just wanted money (and, he added, "Jews have money.") He insisted that he had not killed anyone; to torture and to burn is not to kill. Had he any remorse? No. He was only disappointed: he had not been successful and he had not gotten any money. The future? "If the guillotine were still in use,” he smiled, “somebody would suggest that for me."

Fofana will be judged and sentenced. He will spend 10 or 15 years in jail, maybe less. Then, he will be released. He knows France's laws. He has been sent to jail 12 times (the previous time for attacking a bank and leaving a clerk severely injured), and he has been released 12 times. Before deciding not to take case, his French lawyer had started to state to the media that Fofana is a nice guy, not "capable of violence," and not a racist: "It must have been a collective moment of crazy behavior." added the lawyer. If a judge agrees that it has just been "a collective moment of crazy behavior," Fofana and the rest of the gang will not even go to jail: they will head for an insane asylum where they will be cured after a few months. Already, a number of columnists and intellectuals, in the typical French way, are starting to say the real victims of this crime are the thugs and their families.

During the last ten weeks, the people who tortured and killed Ilan Halimi had tried unsuccessfully to kidnap four other Jews in Paris. The police had descriptions of these people. They knew where these people were operating. They did nothing.

A little more than two years ago another Jew named Sebastien Sellam, was savagely killed in the eastern part of Paris. The murderer cut off his head and took out his eye globes with a fork. He came home a few minutes later saying to his family: "Now, I can go to paradise. I killed my Jew." He was a Muslim, just like most of the gang that killed Ilan Halimi. He was sent to jail, then to an insane asylum. He has been declared cured and will be out in April.

Read it all.


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