London protesters express fury at French court’s 'betrayal' over antisemitic killing

Over 250 people, including Dame Maureen Lipman, protested outside the French embassy on Sunday


Dame Maureen Lipman was among more than 250 people gathered outside the French Embassy in London on Sunday to protest against a decision by a French court not to try the killer of retired Parisian doctor Sarah Halimi, who shouted “Allahu Akhbar” as he pushed her out of her window. 

Speaking at the rally in Knightsbridge, actress Dame Maureen said the court’s decision, that killer Kobili Traore could not stand trial because smoking cannabis before the attack affected his mental state, was a “betrayal” and sent a message to future attackers.   

She said: “If you want to kill a Jew with impunity, then make sure you smoke a joint or have a bottle of scotch before you do it.” 

Dressed in a brown suit, Dame Maureen added: “His actions may have been compromised by the influence of cannabis, but he was compos mentis enough to shout ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is Good) and deem Sarah a ‘Sheitan’ (Satan) as her flung her out of the window. As her neighbour, he had frequently terrorised her and called her daughter a ‘filthy Jew’.” 

The rally in Knightsbridge, organised by the Campaign Against Antisemitism group, called on France to recognise the outrage caused by the case. At the event, a moment of silence was held in the victim’s memory. 

Speaking at the protest, CAA Chief Executive Gideon Falter said: “Today we are all part of what has turned into a global moment of solidarity. There are rallies taking place as we speak in France, there are rallies taking place in the United States and around the world. 

“Jews and our allies are standing together at rallies like this to call for justice for French Jews and to show solidarity.”

He added: “There might be justice for Sarah Halimi at the European Court of Human Rights, or an Israeli court. But there will be no justice for Sarah Halimi at a French court.”

At the rally, people carried placards with an image of Mrs Halimi, which read: “Je Suis Sarah Halimi”. 

Teenager Maya Haim, 14, said she was “outraged” by the court’s decision. After researching the rise of antisemitism in France, she decided to join the rally on Sunday. 

“I never noticed how much people get away with antisemitism before. I could not believe something like this could happen, especially in a western country in Europe. 

“The more I started to read about antisemitism in France, the more I realised that it is not abnormal. People are getting away with it.

“I also realised that not a lot of antisemitism is reported in the mainstream media. You have to look at Jewish papers or do your own research.” 

She added: “Most people at the protest were Jewish but I hope that the people that stopped outside, that walked past and listened, were as outraged as I am.” 

The South Hampstead High School student made a poster that read: “Have you not learned? Justice for Sarah. #endJewHate.” 

She then posted the sign through the French Embassy’s front door. 

“Hopefully when some important official opens the door tomorrow, they’ll see it,” she said. 

“I wanted them to know that they should be ashamed. The Holocaust is in living memory, how are they not ashamed at the sheer amount of antisemitism in France?” 

This month, a French court ruled that Traore, who attacked and killed Orthodox mother Mrs Halimi in her Paris home in 2017, could not stand trial as a result of his mental state after he smoked cannabis.

The judge ruled that Traore, who chanted versus from the Quran during the attack before throwing Mrs Halimi from the balcony of her third-floor flat, was not criminally responsible for her death due to his mental state. Before the attack, drug dealer Traore, who chanted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great) and “I killed the devil”, had smoked cannabis. He is currently in a psychiatric hospital. 

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