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Monday, April 03, 2006

Barbarians of suburbs target French Jews

I have to wonder why any Jew would want to live in France today. This is from the Sunday Times of London:

Yalda’s only moment of doubt came when she heard Halimi’s shrieks as he was carried away by thugs in balaclava helmets. “He screamed for two minutes, with a high-pitched voice like a girl,” she told investigators.

She soon forgot, however. On Halimi’s first night in captivity, she and her boyfriend celebrated in a hotel room paid for by the kidnappers.

Forget the French idyll portrayed in such books as A Year in Provence. France is being forced to confront her dark side as details emerge of horrific crimes in the suburbs.

Testimony from this grim underbelly, the immigrant banlieues — literally “places of banishment” — has fortified the elite’s view of young immigrants on the wrong side of the Paris ring road as “barbarians at the gate”.

For years the Parisian establishment has quaked at the prospect of angry hordes invading their affluent heartland and last week that nightmare came true as gangs of hooded youths robbed and bludgeoned white students attending anti-government demonstrations.

Disquiet about the spread of barbarism across the boulevard périphérique has been fuelled by the chilling story of Yalda.

The gang she worked for was known as “les Barbares”, the Barbarians, and included blacks, Arabs and whites from Portugal and France.

Barbarians seemed an appropriate name. The shocking cruelty inflicted on Halimi seemed to have little to do with efforts to extract money from his anguished family. It evoked the sadistic moral universe of A Clockwork Orange, the novel by Anthony Burgess, with a dose of anti-semitism thrown in.

Thanks to Yalda’s charms, Halimi was imprisoned and tortured with acid and cigarette burns for more than three weeks in the heart of a council estate.

More than 30 neighbours in the building knew what was happening but said nothing about the crime, part of a worrying wave of attacks against Jews all over the country.


The choice of Halimi as a victim because he was Jewish was a particularly distressing component of the crime for a nation whose anti-semitic past included wartime collaboration in the transfer of Jews to the death camps.

France has the biggest Muslim and Jewish populations of any European country and in some suburbs it is not uncommon to see anti-Jewish grafitti. “We’ve got blacks and Arabs in one camp and then it is the Jews in the other,” said Mamadou Menibe, a young man of west African origin from Vitry-Sur-Seine.

The Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France claims that violent attacks against Jews began rising abruptly in France at the start of the second Palestinian intifada in 2000.

Some experts say it has been fuelled by Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, a popular comedian who blames Jews for the suffering of blacks and was found guilty last month of incitement to racial hatred.

The hostility has led thousands of French Jews to move to Israel in the past five years, including about 3,300 last year, the highest number in 35 years.

So obsessed was Fofana, the Barbarians’ leader, with targeting Jews that he had established which shops were Jewish by checking which of them closed during Jewish holidays.


Some commentators seem traumatised by too much reality, upbraiding the foreign media for painting “la belle France” in an unflattering light. But the truth is ugly, particularly when it comes to the barbarians camped at the gate.


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