Toronto (April 30, 2021) - Yesterday, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) held a virtual meeting with French Ambassador to Canada Kareen Rispal and French Consul General in Toronto Tudor Alexis to discuss the recent injustice in the Sarah Halimi murder case.
Halimi, an Orthodox Jewish woman, was attacked and killed by her neighbour in Paris in April 2017. According to reports, the neighbour physically tortured Halimi, calling her a "dirty Jew" and shouting "Allahu Akbar" before pushing her out of the window of her apartment. This was without a doubt an antisemitic attack, and Halimi was murdered because she was a Jew. Two weeks ago, France's highest court ruled that Halimi's murderer was not criminally responsible for his actions because he was too high on marijuana and therefore could not stand trial.
During yesterday's meeting, FSWC President and CEO Michael Levitt and Director of Policy Jaime Kirzner-Roberts said it was unacceptable that Halimi’s killer has evaded criminal prosecution and expressed the urgent need for justice for Halimi and her family. Levitt and Kirzner-Roberts commended French President Emmanuel Macron, who recently spoke out against the court ruling and called on the justice minister to present a change in the law, but noted that his words must be followed by a concrete plan of action to address the problem.
Levitt and Kirzner-Roberts also stressed concerns regarding growing antisemitism in France and the critical need for reforms in policing and the justice system to address hate crimes targeting the Jewish community.
In response to FSWC's concerns, Ambassador Rispal stated that while new action in the Sarah Halimi case is unlikely, she agreed that gaps in existing law that allowed Halimi's murderer to evade prosecution must be addressed. The Ambassador stated unequivocally that France will be enacting a new law to address the failures in this case by narrowing the legal definition of criminal responsibility so that hate criminals will not be able to evade justice.
"Following such a grave injustice, we are relieved to learn that action will be taken in France to ensure that never again will perpetrators of such despicable hate crimes be given a get-out-of-jail-free card," said Levitt. "However, Sarah Halimi cannot be forgotten and her family must receive justice. Jews around the world will not stand down until we see antisemitism taken seriously and concrete actions taken by our governments and legal systems."
"We thank Ambassador Kareen Rispal and Consul General Tudor Alexis for meeting with FSWC and hearing the concerns of the Jewish community. We are hopeful that through such discussions, positive change can occur," Levitt added.