On this date in 2006, 100,000 Parisians protested the kidnapping, torture and murder of Ilan Halimi, a working-class, Morrocan Jewish man of 24 by an anti-Semitic gang.
Twenty-seven members of the mostly Muslim “Barbarians” were arrested for the crime; 19 were convicted and imprisoned. They admitted to kidnapping Halimi for ransom in the belief that all Jews are rich; they held him for three weeks and essentially tortured him to death while harassing his family with phones and e-mails. The police denied the anti-Semitic nature of the crime for many days, which some believe affected their investigation and contributed to Halimi’s being murdered.
Among the organizers of the demonstration was SOS Racisme, a coalition dedicated to multiculturalism and anti-racist activism. Halimi’s family, however, refused to attend the rally because of the participation of two right-wing political movements, the National Front and the Movement for France, which blamed the crime on excessive immigration.
In 2011, a garden was named for Halimi in Paris’s 11th arrondisement, the neighborhood in which he had grown up.
“The police were completely off the mark. They thought they were dealing with classic bandits, but these people were beyond the norm.” -Ruth Halimi, Ilan’s mother.