Saturday, March 04, 2006

Ilan Halimi--American News Blackout--Why?

Image hosting by PhotobucketIlan Halimi was a 23-year old French Jew, an immigrant from Morocco . I say "was" because he is now dead. He was kidnapped and tortured to death over a three-week period by a gang of Muslims who held him for ransom. His screams could be heard by his parents during phone conversations with the kidnappers, along with shouted quotations from the Qu'ran and comments indicating that they were extinguishing their cigarettes by snuffing them out on Ilan's body.

Halimi was found naked, handcuffed with 80% of his body covered with cuts and burns (he had been set on fire at the end) on Feb. 13 near railroad tracks south of Paris. He died on his way to a hospital.

Image hosting by PhotobucketThe story has been headline news throughout Europe. Somewhere between 10,000-100,000+ (estimates varied widely) people marched in Paris to protest his death and his funeral service was attended by French government officials including President Jacques Chirac.

Image hosting by PhotobucketIn the United States, however, the news media effectively buried the story. I doubt that, unless you read the news on-line or read blogs you will not have heard of this story at all.

Image hosting by PhotobucketFor example, FoxNews on-line carried one story on the subject, a story that included the following mis-information:

It remains unclear whether anti-Semitism was the motive for the grisly killing, which may have been part of a suburban extortion racket. . .

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said Tuesday that Halimi's attackers were primarily motivated by greed. "But they believed, and I quote, 'That Jews have money,'" he said. "That's called anti-Semitism." . . .

Anti-Semitic acts, as well as acts against Muslims, increased in France starting in 2000, reflecting the rise in Israeli-Palestinian violence. They've since fallen off their peak, but the Halimi case has revived fears anti-Semitism remains in French society.

Remarkably, no mention is made in the story that the kidnappers were Muslim . . . as if that fact was irrelevant to the story! No mention was made of the kidnapper's phone contacts with Ilan's family, either. But we are informed that there have been "acts against Muslims" as if to somehow negate the horror of Ilan's murder.

The French themselves are culpable in this matter. Ilan's dying body was found on February 13. Three days later,
Speaking on a Parisian Jewish radio on Thursday, the Paris public prosecutor said that "no element of the current investigation could link this murder to an anti-Semitic declaration or action."

Police even didn't mention the Jewish identity of the victim. "It is out of question to draw a line to the victim's membership of the community" Jean-Claude Marin told French Jewish radio Radio Shalom.
Talk about a nation in denial!

CNN on-line did somewhat better on the story, relating the anti-Semitic aspects of the case as details became known. But even CNN never identifies the kidnappers as being Muslim, instead repeating a report that they were of varying ethnicities yet reporting that pro-Palestinian (Hamas) propaganda was found in their apartment. In spite of not reporting that the kidnappers were Muslim CNN included this warning in their story:
(French Interior Minister) Sarkozy on Tuesday called the killers barbarian criminals and urged people not to draw racist conclusions -- a clear warning against blaming France's Muslim community, which was widely suspected in a wave of anti-Jewish attacks several years ago.
Why warn against a back-lash against Muslims if Muslims were not involved? Why is the US media so hesitant to tell the story the "way it is?"

Image hosting by Photobucket(click on picture to enlarge)

As far as CBS, NBC and ABC News, their web sites offer no video and only links to AP stories on the murder. Incredibly, in response to a NBC text search for "Ilan Halimi", nothing could be matched and I was given this suggestion, "Did you mean: ian harlem?" (Update: I found one CBS article here.)

National newspapers (notably the New York Times) did somewhat better, and even the LA Times carried at least two articles written by their own staff. A search of my own Honolulu Advertiser, however, could find no match for "Ilan Halimi."

So, was I right? Did you know about this story?

No wonder Americans are considered to be the most uninformed people in the world. Our TV News networks keep us that way.