Toronto rally planned for Sarah Halimi

Sarah Halimi

Toronto Jews are being urged to attend a rally at the consulate of France (2 Bloor St. E.) this Sunday (April 25) at 11 a.m. to protest a French court decision in the murder of Sarah Halimi.

Jewish communities in Miami, Paris, Marseille, Tel Aviv and London are scheduled to hold rallies at French diplomatic missions at the same time.

Marches were slated to take place on April 22 in New York and Los Angeles.

Put together hastily by a new group, Toronto Jewish Advocacy, the rally is to protest a decision by the French supreme court last week which found that the man who murdered Halimi in 2017 was not criminally responsible because of marijuana use.

The Toronto march will take place rain or shine. COVID rules will apply, said organizer Sami Cooper. She said a candle will be lit for Halimi and demands made to revisit the case, which has outraged Jews around the world.

It began when 27-year-old Kobili Traoré broke into the Paris apartment of his neighbour, Halimi, a 65-year-old retired physician and kindergarten teacher.

Traoré had in the past taunted Halimi, who was the only Jewish resident in her building, recounted Zach Schapira, executive director of the J’accuse Coalition for Justice, in a recent article in Newsweek Magazine.

“On this night, Traoré, who was high on marijuana, beat and stabbed Halimi for over an hour. Witnesses reported that he called her a dirty Jew and Satan. The torture ended in murder when he shoved her mangled body off the balcony of her third-floor apartment,” Schapira wrote.

Legal rulings, which were upheld by the country’s highest court, concluded that marijuana-induced psychosis had “destroyed” Traoré’s ability to control his actions.

The courts determined that the accused “had a history of animus toward Jews” and had been previously imprisoned for violent crimes, Schapira wrote.

The high court’s finding was blasted by Israel. “Sarah Halimi was murdered for clearly anti-Semitic motivations, for the sole reason that she was a Jew,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lior Hayat told the Times of Israel. “This was a despicable murder that harmed not only the victim and her family, but also the entire Jewish community’s sense of security.”

On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron suggested the minister of justice should “submit a change in the law as soon as possible.”

Cooper, 26, said she put together the new advocacy group and rally “because our Jewish leaders are quiet, and that’s not leadership.”

For details on the Toronto rally, go to torontojewishadvocacy.ca

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