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Jewish man killed by Muslim roommate in France; community questions official silence

Suspect turns himself in, says he killed Eyal Haddad with an axe over 100 euros he was owed and because victim was Jewish; community leaders urge probe of antisemitic aspect

A French police officer of the anti-crime squad, Brigade Anti-Criminalite de nuit (BAC N 75) is seen in Paris, on October 16, 2020. (Thomas Coex/AFP)
Illustrative: A French police officer of the anti-crime squad, Brigade Anti-Criminalite de nuit (BAC N 75), is seen in Paris on October 16, 2020. (Thomas Coex/AFP)

A Jewish man was killed in France by his Muslim roommate, who told police he committed the crime over 100 euros he was owed and because the victim was Jewish, a French Jewish anti-Semitism watchdog group reported Monday.

Eyal Haddad, 34, was murdered in Longperrier, just northeast of Paris, on August 20, the National Bureau of Vigilance against Antisemitism (BNVCA) said in a statement.

The victim is believed to be from Djerba, Tunisia, and his family lives in Beersheba, Israel, BNVCA said.

There has been no official confirmation of the incident from French authorities, Algemeiner reported, but members of the Jewish community have raised the issue on social media and questioned the lack of official responses.

“The homicide was allegedly committed by a Muslim suspect. Concern is heightened by the silence surrounding this case,” the BNVCA said.

“The alleged perpetrator turned himself in to police, was arrested and placed in detention,” it added.

He was identified as Mohamed Dridi.

The BNVCA said that the suspect declared during his arrest that the victim, who lived with him, owed him 100 euros and had not returned them. He later also confessed that he had killed Haddad because he was Jewish.

The suspect “smashed the skull of his victim with an axe, then he burned his face and even began to bury the body,” the BNVCA said.

It noted that it had “requested that the facts be examined by considering the antisemitic character, and not dismissing it a priori.”

Damien Rieu, a far-right French activist and member of Eric Zemmour’s party, was the only politician to mention the killing on Twitter.

“Still no press article to inform us about the circumstances of the death of #EyalHaddad?” he questioned.

Yonathan Arfi, president of Jewish community umbrella group CRIF, tweeted that his organization “expresses its solidarity with the family of [Eyal] Haddad, killed on August 19 in Longperrier.”

Arfi said he hoped information will quickly be made available and urged that “all avenues be explored at this stage, including the possibility of the aggravating factor of antisemitism.”

Joël Mergui, president of the Israelite Central Consistory of France, tweeted that Haddad’s “horrific murder overwhelms us. The investigation will have to carefully and lucidly seek the motivations for this crime, including the possible aggravating circumstance of antisemitism.”

Manel Msalmi, international affairs adviser to the European Parliament, tweeted, “It is not the 1st time that a Jew is murdered by his neighbor. We condemn this barbaric and criminal act and we call for justice for Eyal.”

The European Jewish Congress called on French authorities “to investigate and shed light on the true motives of [Haddad’s] attacker.”

Yamina MK Yomtob Kalfon tweeted that he was “outraged at another antisemitic murder of a Jew in France.”

“Years of antisemitic incitement among Muslim leaders in France are bringing about more and more incidents of attacks on Jews,” wrote Kalfon, a native of France who immigrated to Israel in 2004.

Two Jewish people were killed earlier this year, allegedly in antisemitic attacks.

Near the end of May, a French prosecutor said 89-year-old René Hadjaj, who was pushed out of his 17th-story window by a neighbor, may have been killed because he was Jewish. On May 17, his 51-year-old neighbor was arrested, but investigators did not initially charge him with a racist crime.

In February, relatives of Jeremy Cohen, a 31-year-old French Jew who died two months earlier after being hit by a tram in the town of Bobigny, near Paris, said that his death was not an accident, but the result of an antisemitic attack.

Initially, his death was reported as a “pedestrian being run over,” but video footage released by Cohen’s family showed the moments leading to his death and indicated that the incident could have been triggered by an assault.

In the video, Cohen is seen being attacked by several members of a large group before running away from the crowd and being hit by an incoming tram.

France has grappled with a sharp rise in violence targeting its roughly 500,000 Jews, the largest community in Europe, in addition to jihadist attacks in recent years.

The 2017 murder of Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old thrown from her window, sparked a national outcry.

The Halimi’s murder drew particular outrage after the killer, who had shouted “Allahu akbar” (“God is greatest” in Arabic), avoided trial because a judge determined he was under the influence of cannabis and was therefore not criminally responsible.

That prompted French President Emmanuel Macron to seek a law change to ensure people face responsibility for violent crimes while under the influence of drugs, which was adopted in December 2021.

In 2018, 85-year-old Mireille Knoll was brutally stabbed in an attack by two men said to have been looking for “hidden treasures” in her Paris apartment.

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