Paris mourned the death of Ilan Halimi today (via Haaretz):
Cries of “vive la France” and “la justice” accompanied President Jacques Chirac, his wife Bernadette and Premier Dominique de Villepin last night as they left the memorial evening held here yesterday for Ilan Halimi.
The ceremony, which was held in the Grand Synagogue on rue de la Victoire, was seen by many in the Jewish community as the state leaders’ formal declaration that anti-Semitism was to blame for the horrific kidnapping, torture and murder of the 23-year-old Parisian.
At 5 P.M., two hours before the ceremony’s official opening, police cars surrounded the synagogue area. Police at roadblocks inspected the bag of everyone who entered the area. Hundreds of thousands of people crowded on either side of the street, waiting their turn to enter the synagogue. At the synagogue’s entrance police used metal detectors and checked the identity cards and passports of all who pushed in.
The synagogue’s 3,000 seats were full, dozens more mourners stood in the aisles and many thousands remained outside and could not get in.
During the chilling ceremony, an 8-year-old read the Psalm “I will raise my eyes to the mountains, whence will come my help?” near a giant picture of Halimi.
Halimi’s family and others in the Jewish community said that had the authorities admitted earlier that the young man had been attacked for being a Jew, he could possibly have been saved.
Halimi was found dying, covered with burns and cuts, on Monday February 13. He had been kidnapped three weeks earlier, after a Muslim gang sent a blonde to seduce him. Halimi had agreed to meet with her after meeting in a chat room. Immediately after his abduction his mother went to the police, saying he was kidnapped by anti-Semites. Sources in the community said three Jewish youngsters had managed to escape similar abdications in recent months.
The police told Halimi’s mother, Ruth, to stop all telephone connection with the kidnappers, as a way of forcing them to use electronic mail, which was traceable.
The police did not know that during the five days in which the kidnappers tried in vain to contact Halimi’s family, Halimi suffered terrible torture. One of the kidnappers said, “We put our cigarettes out on him because he was a Jew.”
May he rest in peace.
Israpundit: The murder of Ilan Halimi
Caroline Glick/Jerusalem Post:
Anti-Semitism in the Muslim dominated suburbs of Paris and other French cities is all-encompassing. As Nidra Poller related in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal, “One of the most troubling aspects of this affair is the probable involvement of relatives and neighbors, beyond the immediate circle of the gang [of kidnappers], who were told about the Jewish hostage and dropped in to participate in the torture.”
It appears that Ilan Halimi’s murderers had some connection to Hamas. Tuesday, French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said that police found propaganda published by the Palestinian Charity Committee or the CBSP at the home of one of the suspects. The European Jewish Press reported this week that Israel has alleged that the organization is a front group for Palestinian terrorists and that in August 2003 the US government froze the organization’s US bank accounts, accusing it of links with Hamas.
Halimi’s family alleges that throughout the 20 days of Ilan’s captivity, the French police refused to take the anti-Semitic motivations of the kidnappers into account. The investigators insisted on viewing his kidnap as a garden variety kidnap-for-ransom criminal case, which they said generally involves no threat to the life of the captive. The police maintained their refusal to investigate the anti-Semitic motivations of the kidnappers in spite of the fact that in their e-mail and telephone communications with Ilan’s family, his captors repeatedly referred to his Judaism, and on at least one occasion recited verses from the Koran while Ilan was heard screaming in agony in the background. The family alleges that if the police had been willing to acknowledge that Ilan was abducted because he was Jewish, they would have recognized that his life was in clear and immediate danger and acted with greater urgency.
Debbie Schlussel notes that Halimi’s family, Sephardic Jews, had emigrated from north Africa to France to escape anti-Semitism.
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