Murder of Sarah Halimi

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Murder of Sarah Halimi
Murder of Sarah Halimi is located in Paris
Murder of Sarah Halimi
Murder of Sarah Halimi (Paris)
LocationBelleville, Paris, France
Coordinates48°52′11″N 2°22′38″E / 48.869692°N 2.377290°E / 48.869692; 2.377290
Date4 April 2017
Non-fatal injuries

The Sarah Halimi case concerns the murder of a Jewish woman aged 65 in Paris on 4 April 2017 by Kobili Traoré, a native of Mali who shouted about religious ideas in Arabic during the murder. The suspect claimed insanity and was hospitalized.

After French authorities refused to do so, a French court officially reclassified Halimi's murder as an anti-semitic attack.


Dr Sarah Attal-Halimi, a 65-year-old Jewish woman, mother of three children, and retired physician,[1] was beaten and defenestrated. It is uncertain if she was killed before the fall or if death occurred as a result of the fall. This occurred at her residence, a 3rd-floor apartment in the Belleville district of Paris on 4 April 2017.[2][3]

Kobili Traoré, a 27-year-old neighbor, a drug dealer and drug addict claimed insanity and was promptly held in a psychiatric hospital.[4][5] An African immigrant from Mali,[6] Traoré was reportedly enraged following a family dispute and gained access to the neighbouring apartment of a different family, who immediately locked themselves into a bedroom, phoned police for help, and waited in fear as they listened to the intruder reciting verses from the Quran.[5]

The police are believed to have first gone to the wrong building while Traoré climbed a balcony from the apartment where the family was sheltering behind a locked door, to the apartment of Halimi, the only Jewish resident of the building.[7] When police finally arrived at the apartment the intruder had entered first, they delayed entering while they awaited the arrival of an elite squad, while more phone calls came in to the police emergency hotline reporting a woman screaming as a man apparently beat her and shouted "shut your mouth", Allahu Akbar, and "I killed the Shaitan" (the demon, or Satan, in Arabic).[5][8][5][4]

After throwing Halimi from a third-floor window, Traoré returned to the first apartment where the family, still cowering in a room and awaiting the police, again heard him praying aloud.[5][9][10]

The second district of the judicial police (2nd DPJ) of Paris was responsible for the investigation. On 7 April 2017, prosecutor François Molins, declared that, for the moment, this act could not be considered as an antisemitic murder but also that this track would be explored by the investigators.[11]

A criminal case was opened for deliberate homicide with public prosecutor François Molins in charge of the investigation. The Libération newspaper revealed many new details about Traoré's past on 6 June 2017.[11]

Traoré had never been confined to a psychiatric hospital before, but had spent several years in prison for acts of delinquency, aggravated violence and drug dealing. He was placed in custody. A toxicological analysis revealed the presence of cannabis in his blood. After a debate with the police, the doctor judged his psychiatric state to require transfer to a hospital without a hearing. The results of the psychiatric assessment were planned for mid-June and then postponed until the end of August.[citation needed]

Juridical procedure and complaints[edit]

Halimi's sister-in-law lodged a complaint on 20 June 2017 to denounce the inertia of the police and its lack of coordination.[12]

On 10 July 2017, Kobili Traoré was apprehended and heard by the investigating judge. He recognized the facts about the murder, while denying any antisemitic motivation: "I felt like possessed. I felt oppressed by an external force, a demonic force." He attributes his condition to cannabis consumption.[13]

On 12 July 2017, Traoré was "charged with intentional homicide to the detriment of Mrs Attal-Halimi and for forcible confinement" by the neighboring family via whose apartment he climbed into Halimi's apartment. He was placed under warrant but remained in hospital. Brigitte Kuster, a member of the 17th arrondissement of Paris, referred the matter to the Minister of the Interior.[14] In September 2017, the prosecutor officially characterized the murder as an "antisemitic" crime.[15]

In February 2018, the investigator in charge admitted in writing the anti-Semitic nature of the killing as had already been indicated to Agence France-Presse (AFP) by a judicial source.[16][17][18][19]

Political responses[edit]

The London Times reported on 23 May 2017 that according to Jean-Alexandre Buchinger, an attorney for the victim's family, the murderer ought to have been charged with "murder with antisemitism as an aggravating circumstance", and also that French Jewish groups were alleging that this had not been done out of fear of encouraging support for the National Front (France) party's election campaign.[20]

On 16 July 2017, Francis Kalifat, President of the CRIF, emphasized the antisemitic nature of the murder during the commemoration of the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup. The President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron then asked the court to clarify the matter despite the alleged murderer's claims.[21][22][23]

On 1 June 2017, Belgian MEP in the European Parliament, Frédérique Ries denounced the French authorities' "silent silence" over the murder of Sarah Halimi during a debate in the European Parliament on the fight against antisemitism.[24][4]

Public reaction[edit]

The Washington Post covered the story in the context of discussing a broad reluctance on the part of French media and investigators to label attacks as "terrorism",[7] comparing it to the 2006 killing of Ilan Halimi, believed to have been a distant relative of Sarah Halimi.[25][26](p35) in which French authorities similarly refused to acknowledge the antisemitic nature of the murder. The Halimi murder generated significant public reaction in France and worldwide, with intellectual, media, political and Jewish communal voices demanding that antisemitism and Islamic terrorism be investigated as possible motives, and accusing both the French government and press of a coverup.[7][5][4]

Paris prosecutor François Molins received representatives of the Jewish community and attempted to reassure them that the issue is not one of antisemitism, but that the possibility is being investigated.[27][28] According to Gilles-William Goldnadel, a French political commentator and attorney for the Halimi family, Sarah Halimi's murderer had "the profile of a radical Islamist, and yet somehow there is a resistance to call a spade a spade.”[7]

French journalist Marc Weitzmann published a long article accusing the French government and press of covering up this and other acts of violent antisemitism on 25 May 2017 in the American magazine Tablet.[5]

Alexandra Laignel-Lavastine, a French academic, published an open letter on 25 May 2017 in the newspaper Atlantico, "From Ilan to Sarah Halimi, France unworthy" and addressed it to Gérard Collomb, appointed Minister of the Interior a week earlier, in which she denounced "one country where it has once again become possible to assassinate Jews without our countrymen being overly disturbed" and "the deliquescent atmosphere that reigns in the country of Dieudonné".[29]

Seventeen intellectuals, including Michel Onfray, Élisabeth Badinter, Jacques Julliard, Georges Bensoussan, Alain Finkielkraut and Marcel Gauchet, published on 2 June 2017 the lead article in Le Figaro asking that light be shed "on the death of this French woman of Jewish religion killed at the cries of 'Allah Akbar'" and denounced "the denial of the real" and the fact that "this crime of a rare barbarism, which took place in the middle of the presidential campaign, received little attention from the media".[30][4]

On 5 June 2017, Bernard-Henri Levy again stressed the fact that, although Sarah Halimi was tortured and defenestrated at the cry of "Allahu Akbar", justice and the press "are reluctant to pronounce the word 'antisemitism'".[31]

The same day, the former high magistrate Philippe Bilger evoked the Halimi case in an opinion piece published by Le Figaro.[32] On 6 June 2017, columnist Gérard Leclerc of Radio Notre-Dame denounced the media silence.[33]

On 8 June 2017, Michel Onfray[citation needed] wondered in a video about the silence surrounding this murder: "How can we kill this poor lady twice? By not giving this information the echo that it deserved, it was to consider that the echo of this murder counted for nothing". He adds that "whenever there is an escalation in terror, there is an escalation in the denial of terror. Every real is today evacuated and swept 'if it is likely to play the game of the National Front (France)'. But reality always avenges itself one day".[34]

On 13 July 2017, the CRIF posted a newsletter on the topic. It reminds that the murder occurred a hundred days ago, but that the suspect was still under examination for voluntary homicide while the aggravating circumstance of antisemitism was not retained. It asked: "Why this antisemitic denialism?".[35]

In May 2019, Shimon Samuels of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Europe complained about the fact that Traoré was still considered unfit for trial, that the nature of the crime was irrefutably antisemitic, then said that "If justice is perverted and murder excused due to drug addiction, this sets a precedent for every drunk driver to be similarly acquitted."[36]

Public protests[edit]

The "white march", a gathering of between 1000-2000 people, was organized on 9 April 2017 by the Representative Council of the Jewish Institutions of France (Crif) to demand that the actual facts be revealed to the public. BFM TV added that the victim, before being defenestrated, was beaten. The march started at the local Belleville metro station and ended at the site of Sarah Halimi's homicide. Observers followed the march from their windows. "It was a drug addict", exclaimed a neighbor. Some participants attempted to enter the building where Halimi lived, kicking on the door.[why?] White roses were placed at the building's entrance.[37]

Some sources have said the peaceful rally was brutally stopped by the French police after some participants displaying Israel flags started singing the Israel national anthem after having sung the French anthem.[38][39][verification needed]

Media coverage[edit]

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Jewish Chronicle (London), and Times of Israel carried the story immediately after the murder occurred, flagging the killing as a possible hate crime.[40][41][42][43]

Le Monde did not publish the story until 23 June, when it finally ran a story raising the question of antisemitism.[44]

Gilles-William Goldnadel, a lawyer for one of the victim's sisters, expressed in the center-right leaning Le Figaro on 22 May that, "the assassin presents the classic profile of the usual Islamist criminals [...] But what tightens The heart of man and of the lawyer, is called public indifference", highlighting the suspect's judicial past.[45]

The French Jewish press belatedly reported on the matter on 9 June 2017, asserting that based on evidence and witnesses, nothing confirmed an antisemitic character to the crime, expressing confidence in the authorities and urging French Jews not to spread rumors on social media.[46][47]

Thomas Bidnic, a lawyer for Traoré, stated on 31 May that the suspect, still in psychiatric confinement, might not face trial.[48]


Sarah Halimi's son described her as having "studied medicine for seven years, and was a family practitioner."[26]:p.34 Years later, in the process of raising her children together with her late husband, a psychologist, she decided to apply for an open position as director of a government-funded preschool that "became famous across Paris."[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sarah Halimi, défenestrée par un de ses voisins dans le XIème à Paris". (in French). 5 April 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  2. ^ BFMTV. "Femme défenestrée à Paris: le voisin interpellé, interné en psychiatrie". BFMTV (in French). Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  3. ^ Mickiewicz, Juliette (12 July 2017). "Affaire Sarah Halimi: le suspect mis en examen pour meurtre". (in French). Retrieved 29 July 2017 – via Le Figaro.
  4. ^ a b c d e "French intellectuals accuse authorities of covering up Jewish woman's slaying by Muslim neighbor". JTA. 9 June 2017. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Weitzmann, Marc (25 May 2017). "Sarah Halimi Was Beaten to Death in Paris By a Muslim Attacker Reciting Verses From the Quran. The Press Covered it Up". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  6. ^ Devecchio, Alexandre (17 July 2017). "Le meurtre de Sarah Halimi, une tragédie contemporaine". Retrieved 29 July 2017 – via Le Figaro.
  7. ^ a b c d e McAuley, James (23 July 2017). "In France, murder of a Jewish woman ignites debate over the word 'terrorism'". Washington Post. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  8. ^ "Cette vieille dame assassinée qui panique la communauté juive et dont on parle peu". (in French). Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  9. ^ Kovacs, Stéphane (18 July 2017). "Affaire Sarah Halimi: ce que révèle le dossier". (in French). Retrieved 29 July 2017 – via Le Figaro.
  10. ^ "Suspect in brutal murder of French-Jewish woman may not be tried". Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  11. ^ a b "Meurtre sauvage à Paris : démence ou antisémitisme ?". (in French). Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  12. ^ "Meurtre de Sarah Halimi: ses proches dénoncent 'l'inertie de la police'". (in French). 23 June 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  13. ^ ""Je l'ai jetée par la fenêtre": les déclarations du tueur présumé de Sarah Halimi". (in French). 13 July 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  14. ^ "Brigitte Kuster saisit le ministre de l'Intérieur au sujet du meurtre de Sarah Halimi". (in French). Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  15. ^ "Killing of Paris Jewish woman was anti-Semitic crime, prosecutors finally say". Times of Israel. JTA. 20 September 2017. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  16. ^ "Meurtre de Sarah Halimi: le caractère antisémite finalement retenu". (in French). 27 February 2018.
  17. ^ "Meurtre de Sarah Halimi: le caractère antisémite retenu". (in French). 27 February 2018.
  18. ^ "Murder of Sarah Halimi: the antisemitic character retained by the judge". Le Monde. AFP. 27 February 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  19. ^ "Murder of Jewish woman in Paris reclassified as anti-semitic attack". Telegraph. 28 February 2018. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  20. ^ Adam Sage (23 May 2017). "Antisemitic killing 'hushed up for election campaigns'". The Times. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  21. ^ "Macron veut que "toute la clarté" soit faite sur le meurtre de Sarah Halimi". (in French). 16 July 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  22. ^ "EN DIRECT. Commémoration de la rafle du Vel D'Hiv: "C'est bien la France qui organisa la rafle", déclare Emmanuel Macron..." (in French). Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  23. ^ Russell Goldman (17 July 2017). "Macron Denounces Anti-Zionism as 'Reinvented Form of Anti-Semitism'". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 August 2017. [France President Macron] also called for an investigation into the death of Sarah Halimi, a 66-year-old woman who in April was thrown from the window of her Paris apartment
  24. ^ "Sarah Halimi: une députée Belge dénonce "le silence glaçant des autorités"". (in French). Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  25. ^ The Washington Post story said "no relation to" but a subsequent in-depth article, published in a different periodical, that named and quoted a number of relatives, said "a distant relative"
  26. ^ a b Horowitz, Simi (26 July 2017). "Terror in Paris". Ami Living. pp. 32–39.
  27. ^ Askolovitch, Claude (7 April 2017). "Cette vieille dame assassinée qui panique la communauté juive et dont on parle peu". SlateFr (in French). Retrieved 3 August 2017.
  28. ^ "French Jewish Anger Grows Over Savage Antisemitic Murder of Pensioner at Hands of Muslim in Paris Suburb". Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  29. ^ "Lettre ouverte à Gérard Collomb: d'Ilan à Sarah Halimi, la France indigne". (in French). Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  30. ^ "L'appel de 17 intellectuels: "Que la vérité soit dite sur le meurtre de Sarah Halimi"". (in French). 1 June 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017 – via Le Figaro.
  31. ^ "De Manchester à Jénine". La Règle du Jeu (in French). 5 June 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  32. ^ Bilger, Philippe (5 June 2017). "Affaire Sarah Halimi: le point de vue de Philippe Bilger". (in French). Retrieved 29 July 2017 – via Le Figaro.
  33. ^ "L'éditorial de Gérard Leclerc: Un gros malaise". (in French). 6 June 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  34. ^ "Michel Onfray: "Sarah Halimi a été tuée deux fois"". (in French). 8 June 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  35. ^ "Assassinat de Sarah Halimi, déjà 100 jours. L'assassin a été mis en examen pour homicide volontaire, mais la circonstance aggravante d'antisémitisme n'est pas retenue. Pourquoi ce déni d'antisémitisme ?". (in French). 13 July 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  36. ^ Winston, Alex (26 May 2019). "Sarah Halimi murderer found unfit to stand trial". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  37. ^ "Paris: marche en hommage à une femme juive défenestrée par un voisin". BFMTV (in French). Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  38. ^ "Убийство Сары Халими в Париже: тысячи французских евреев вышли на "белый марш"". (in Russian). Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  39. ^ "Убийство Сары Халими в Париже: две тысячи французских евреев вышли на "белый марш"". (in Russian). Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  40. ^ Harpin, Lee (5 April 2017). "Man arrested after Jewish woman found dead outside her Paris flat Watchdog suggests possible hate motive". Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  41. ^ Sitbon, Shirli (7 April 2017). "Hate motive 'possible' in alleged murder of Orthodox woman in Paris". Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  42. ^ "Jewish woman found dead outside her Paris home Police arrest suspect in death of Sarah Halimi, 66; anti-Semitism watchdog doesn't rule out racially motivated murder". Times of Israel. JTA. 5 April 2017. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  43. ^ "La presse française se penche sur l'affaire Sarah Halimi". (in French). Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  44. ^ Couvelaire, Louise (23 May 2017). "Sarah Halimi a-t-elle été tuée "parce qu'elle était juive?"" [Was Sarah Halimi killed because she was Jewish?]. (in French). Retrieved 29 July 2017 – via Le Monde.
  45. ^ Goldnadel, Gilles William (22 May 2017). "G-W Goldnadel: " Ce que révèle l'indifférence vis-à-vis de la mort de Sarah Halimi "". (in French). Retrieved 29 July 2017 – via Le Figaro.
  46. ^ "Affaire Sarah Halimi-Attal: François Molins chargé de l'enquête". (in French). 7 April 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  47. ^ Nadjar, Steve. "Sarah Halimi assassinée: un témoin direct se confie à Actualité juive". Actualités Juives (in French). Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  48. ^ "Vers une "irresponsabilité pénale" pour le suspect du meurtre de Sarah Halimi ?". (in French). Retrieved 29 July 2017.