As every married person knows, silences can be pregnant with meaning, even if the meaning is not immediately clear. The silence in the French press about a recent startling event in Paris is surely pregnant with meaning. On Monday, April 3, an Orthodox Jewish woman, Sarah Halimi, a doctor aged 66, was thrown out of a window to her death by an African man aged 27. He was her neighbor in the flats where she lived. According to witnesses, whose testimony has yet to be confirmed, the man, who had been harassing her with insults for several days, shouted “Allahu akbar!” as he threw her.Factoid: The first round of the 2017 French presidential election is set to be held on 23 April 2017. Should no candidate win a majority, a run-off election between the top two candidates will be held on 7 May 2017.
Also, according to unconfirmed reports, neighbors had called the police because of the young man’s behavior. Three policemen came but did nothing, deciding that it was up to other authorities, presumably psychiatric, to act. At any rate, the young man was transferred to a psychiatric clinic almost immediately after his arrest....
But why the silence in the press? The case was certainly dramatic enough to be worthy of a mention under the rubric of faits divers. I happened to learn of it only through a Parisian neighbor, a Jewish shop owner. The story had appeared in La Tribune juive, and probably caused a shudder among French Jews, all the greater because of the silence of the press about it.
Was this silence commanded or coordinated from above? Perhaps no one wanted to raise the temperature in the run up to one of the most contested elections in recent French history, in which there is the possibility—an outside possibility, but still greater than ever before—of a victory for the far Right.
Sunday, April 16, 2017
"Silence in Paris"
"What does it mean when no one talks about a brutal murder?"