The Jewish community has doubts, as René Hadjadj was pushed out a window like the late Sarah Halimi.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
French police have ruled out an antisemitic motive in the murder of an 89-year-old Jew in Lyons Tuesday, but the Jewish community has its doubts.
René Hadjadj was thrown over a 17th floor balcony after a dispute with a neighbor. His body was found by the police around 8 p.m.
French media reported that the police have arrested an unnamed 51-year-old suspect who said he pushed Hadjadj after an argument. The elderly man lived on the second floor of the building.
While booking the suspect for intentional homicide, the public prosecutor’s office and police “mentioned” the possibility that the murder was motivated by Jew-hatred, but then dismissed the idea.
Jewish media outlets as well as posters on social media have questioned whether the authorities are not rushing to this judgement too soon.
The Tribune Juive pointed out that “the neighborhood in question is part of the Lost Territories,” a term used for areas in French cities that have large immigrant populations that do not acculturate into French society and where violence is prevalent. According to an article by the French Jewish Defense League in Le Monde, the suspect is of Arab-Muslim extraction.
Many online users have pointed out the similarity between Hadjadj’s murder and that of Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old Jewish woman who was thrown from the window of her Paris apartment by her Muslim neighbor shouting antisemitic epithets in 2017.
Outraging the Jewish community, the court ruled last year that her murderer, Kobili Traore, was not criminally responsible because he was experiencing a psychotic episode after smoking a large quantity of marijuana.
Also noted was the more recent case in February of Jérémie Cohen, who died after running into a tram while being chased by a gang that had beaten him up. Then, too, the police considered it simply an accident until the Cohen family, working alone, unearthed video evidence of the assault.
It is still unclear whether the motive was antisemitic in this case, but Cohen’s skullcap was found on the street near the spot where the incident occurred.
The National Bureau for Vigilance Against Antisemitism has demanded that antisemitism be retained as a possible motive in the Hadjadj case until it could be thoroughly investigated by the authorities.
A former tailor, Hadjadj lived in the Lyons neighborhood for 22 years. Neighbors shocked by his violent death said, “We all called him Uncle René.”