Memorial for slain French woman turns violent as questions linger
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Memorial for slain French woman turns violent as questions linger

Members of far-right group clash with victim’s neighbors; Jewish community group urges patience until probe completed

Some 1,000 members of France's Jewish community gathered outside the home of Sarah Halimi in Paris to commemorate her alleged anti-Semitic murder, April 9, 2017. (Screen capture: 0404 Video)
Some 1,000 members of France's Jewish community gathered outside the home of Sarah Halimi in Paris to commemorate her alleged anti-Semitic murder, April 9, 2017. (Screen capture: 0404 Video)

Some 1,000 members of France’s Jewish community gathered Sunday outside the home of Sarah Halimi in Paris to commemorate her murder last week.

A suspect was arrested Wednesday, but authorities have not yet declared whether the murder was racially motivated and community leaders have cautioned against reaching early conclusions.

The Sunday demonstration was meant to be a quiet memorial but members of the far-right Jewish Defense League attempted to turn the event into a vocal protest against anti-Semitism in France, with several attendees clashing with neighbors in the buildings next to Sarah Halimi’s.

Footage of the event showed JDL members throwing bottles at people leaning out of the windows who had allegedly shouting anti-Semitic slurs at the crowd.

צפו: יהודים רבים הפגינו בפריז ודרשו משפט צדק לרוצח הערבי של שרה חלימיhttps://www.0404.co.il/post/58ea083ba36a444d538b4574.html

Posted by 0404 on svētdiena, 2017. gada 9. aprīlis

French police arrived to disperse the protest shortly thereafter, but not before the Jewish demonstrators sang both the French and Israeli national anthems.

Halimi was found dead on the street in front of her apartment on Monday in the crime-ridden 11th district of the French capital. Her 27-year-old neighbor, reported by Israel Radio to be Muslim, was later arrested in connection with her death. He has been sent for psychiatric evaluation, according to reports. Relatives of Halimi said that she had previously experienced anti-Semitic harassment by a relative of the man under arrest. The woman was beaten before she fell from the third floor, Israel Radio also reported.

French police have not classified the woman’s death as a hate crime, but the family of the 66-year-old Jewish doctor asserted that the killing was nationalistically motivated.

Jewish French parliamentarian Meir Habib (L), seen with Israeli Knesset Member Yoni Chetboun during the inauguration of the caucus for French Immigrants in Israel at the Knesset, January 15, 2014 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Jewish French parliamentarian Meir Habib (L), seen with Israeli Knesset Member Yoni Chetboun during the inauguration of the caucus for French Immigrants in Israel at the Knesset, January 15, 2014 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The French Jewish community umbrella organization CRIF, however, said in a Friday statement that there was “no information to suggest the murder was an anti-Semitic attack” and cautioned people against spreading rumors online.

French parliamentarian Meyer Habib has called on state authorities to investigate the crime as an anti-Semitic attack, though. In a lengthy Facebook post, he said the suspect had routinely harassed Halimi, calling her and her daughter “dirty Jews.”

On Thursday, hundreds arrived in Jerusalem to lay Halimi to rest. She is survived by her son who lives in Israel and two daughters who live in France.

JTA contributed to this report.

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