French man possibly murdered for being Jewish


Western Europe


People gather in memory of Sarah Halimi, a French woman of Jewish faith who was killed in 2017. Photo EPA, Stephanie Lecocq

An 89-year-old French man who was pushed out of his 17th-storey window by a neighbour may have been killed because he was Jewish, a prosecutor has said. It would be the thirteenth antisemitic murder in France since 2003.

According to the prosecutor, after "elements" were collected on social networks, the prosecution decided to extend the investigation to the "aggravating circumstance of an act committed for the victim's belonging to a specific ethnic group, nation, race or religion". This reports French daily Le Figaro. On the evening of May 17, the body of the 89-year-old man was discovered lifeless, directly below his apartment in the 9th arrondissement of Lyon. Although the man lived on the second floor, he was pushed from a higher floor. This reports the French regional daily Le Progrès. His 51-year-old neighbour, whom he frequented regularly, is suspected of having pushed the man from the 17th floor after an argument. He was charged and remains in custody.

The National Office for Vigilance against Anti-Semitism (BNVCA) had already announced in a press release on Sunday its intention to become a civil party in this case. "The BNVCA cannot resolve itself in a context of rising anti-Semitism that an act of such barbarism is not studied with the required attention, in particular, that of the context in which the neighbour was evolving", the association wrote. It further recalled the "similarity" of this case with that of Sarah Halimi, a Jewish sexagenarian killed and defenestrated in 2017 in Paris. The murder led to major protests in France. The defendant had been under the influence of marijuana. It was determined that he could not be held responsible due to psychosis during the incident. President Macron called for legislative changes related to drug use and crime in connection with the Halimi case: "Choosing to take drugs and then 'go crazy' should not, in my view, remove your criminal responsibility, Macron said in an interview with Le Figaro in April last year.

Increasing numbers

Since 2003, there have been at least twelve anti-Semitic murders in France. And the number is increasing. A report by The Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at the University of Tel Aviv shows that there were 589 anti-Semitic incidents in France last year. In comparison, Germany had 3028 incidents in the same year, while the United Kingdom counted 2255 anti-Semitic incidents. France has a Jewish population of about 446,000. This reports the Norwegian daily Vårt Land.


At the end of May, at the General Assembly of the European Rabbinical Conference in Munich, international anti-Semitism experts called for measures to safeguard religious freedom and combat anti-Semitism. "It is the responsibility of the member states of the EU that religious minorities can live their practices", the anti-Semitism commissioner of the European Commission, Katharina von Schnurbein, said. "We have to allow diversity." With a conference in the fall, she wants to bring together key players from the Jewish and Muslim communities to promote this to member states.

In his speech, the Assembly's President, Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, called on the European Union not to stop fighting anti-Semitism. Religious freedom must be guaranteed to ensure a Jewish future. If Jews could live freely in a country but weren't allowed to practice their religion and its commandments, "then the religion isn't free," said Goldschmidt.



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