Protesters gathered in Paris, London, New York, Tel Aviv, Toronto and other cities on Sunday to demonstrate against the ruling of France’s highest court that the killer of a Jewish woman in Paris will not stand trial because he was under the influence of cannabis.
The decision comes over four years after Kobili Traoré killed Sarah Halimi, who was in her 60s, at her apartment in the Belleville neighborhood of Paris. Halimi was found pushed out of the window of her apartment and neighbors reported hearing Traoré shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great” in Arabic).
Some 25,000 protesters gathered in Paris to demand justice — this was the first time in decades that such a large number of French Jews gathered to protest against actions of the French state.
The rally, which was held at Trocadero Square overlooking the Eiffel Tower, was held under tight security arrangements in a cordoned-off enclosure.
The Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions, known as CRIF, played a video of French Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia demanding another “trial of facts,” even if it ends without sentencing of Traore on a large screen.
Numerous prominent French public figures were present at the rally, including the actor Pascal Légitimu, Israeli-French actor Yvan Attal and French-Jewish comedian Gad Elmaleh. Halimi’s brother, William Attal, and her son Yonathan were also present.
“The clamor has risen and hope has returned. That hope is all of you here,” Halimi’s brother William Attal told a crowd of several thousand at the Trocadero esplanade in Paris.
Robert Ejnes, the executive director of CRIF said he came to Trocadero Plaza to support Halimi’s relatives.
“I think they are like the French people – they’re angry and don’t understand at all,” he said.
“Here are people who trust France’s government, France’s justice system, and who are confronted with this totally unfair decision. The killer is recognized as a killer, is recognized as being anti-Semitic but he won’t be tried. It’s simply unacceptable and it’s very hard for these people to even grieve,” he said.
At the same time, thousands more took to the streets in Tel Aviv, London, Rome, New York, Washington DC, Miami, Los Angeles, Toronto and other cities in France.
Demonstrations at the French Embassy and consulates in certain cities including Toronto and London saw limited attendance because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Signs read, “Jewish lives matter,” “Justice for Sarah Halimi,” “Shame on France” and other slogans,