Published on November 15, 2017 on the website of RealClear World
In France, November 1st marks la Toussaint, or All Souls’ Day. On this day set aside to remember the dead, the French lay chrysanthemums on the graves of loved ones. During this year’s Toussaint, pedestrians in the Paris suburb of Bagneux stumbled across an impromptu gravestone engraving that no amount of chrysanthemums could erase. Across the memorial plaque for Ilan Halimi, the young French Jew murdered in 2006, the words “Free Fofana” had been scrawled.
By way of emphasis, the vandals added a swastika and Hitler’s name to their handiwork.
The joining of these words and signs made sense. Youssof Fofana was the ringleader of the aptly named “Gang of Barbarians,” a crew of teenaged thugs who roamed the housing projects in Bagneux. Convinced that Halimi was rich because he was Jewish, Fofana’s group lured the young man into a rendezvous and kidnapped him. For three weeks, while the police fruitlessly searched for Halimi, the barbarians kept themselves busy by torturing him. Exasperated, Fofana finally cut his losses by dumping Halimi’s battered and bloodied body in a neighboring suburb. Rushed to a hospital, Halimi did not live long enough to see its emergency room.
What is to be done? Act, and not panic, according to Marc Knobel. A staff historian at CRIF, Knobel rightly insists these trends require a steady and determined response. The stakes could not be higher, he believes, but there is still “time to act.” The measure of success might well be whether the new stele the municipal authorities of Bagneux plan to build for Ilan Halimi escapes the fate of its predecessors.
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