Trial Forces France to Confront Its Anti-Semitism Demons

April 30, 2009

Author: Susan Sachs

Source: The Globe and Mail

When a young Jew named Ilan Halimi was found dying on a railway siding three years ago, duct tape over his eyes and his body burned and slashed, the French police were reluctant at first to call it a hate crime.

Within a week, their caution gave way to a different and uglier conclusion, one that sent shock waves through a country that has wrestled with the demons of anti-Semitism for years.

The victim was targeted, investigators said, because he was Jewish.

The case went to trial yesterday, with 27 people charged with participating in the abduction, torture and killing of Mr. Halimi, a 23-year-old mobile-phone salesman who was held for 24 days.