Lucie Attal, an Orthodox Jewish woman, fell to her death from her third-story balcony. The story of her killing rocked the nation of France and the Jewish community. Now, her murderer, who was high on marijuana and diagnosed by several psychiatrists, may have his charges dropped. 

In 2017, Kalibi Traroré had just smoked several joints and watched The Punisher, when he charged into a neighbouring family’s apartment. The tenants managed to lock themselves in a room, protected from Traroré frenzy, and called the police. Traroé then continued to climb a fire escape, into the bedroom of his eventual victim. 

Traroré crushed the skull of Attal with her bedside telephone. Her body, covered only by a patterned gown, soaked with blood, was dragged to the balcony. Then, like John Travolta in The Punisher, he threw her off the building. 

As Attal fell, Traroré was heard shouting “I killed the Sheitan!” Sheitan, in Arabic, translates to the English word “devil.”

After the attack, Traroré was brought to psychiatric attention where he has stayed since. As Le Parisian reports, several psychiatrists have seen Traroré since the attack and have mainly concluded he cannot be held accountable for his actions. 

Yet, it is Traroré’s status as a French-Malian Muslim and Lucie Attal’s Jewish identity that has kept the French public fixated on the case. Antisemitism and islamophobia are particularly present in France.

Nonetheless, Daniel Zagury, one of the many respected French psychiatrists handling the case of Traroré’s, concluded it was not likely that Traroré’s act came from premeditated antisemitism. This did not bar Zagury from concluding that French “society’s atmosphere” of antisemitism helps to often direct “delirious episodes among subjects of the Muslim religion.”

The judge’s decision in a preliminary court hearing that there are “plausible reasons” to consider dropping charges against Traroré came with the advice of psychiatrists like Zagury.

The Union of French Jewish Communities has since commented that not judging “this classic case of an anti-Semitic killing” would be “tantamount to killing [Attal] a second time.” 

Indeed, there is a pile of evidence suggesting Traroré acted from anti-Semitic prejudice. Before her murder, Attal had told her brother she had been harassed by Traroré in their building’s elevator and was afraid for her personal safety. Furthermore, an imam at the Omar Mosque Traroré attended was asked to leave France in 2012 for his radical preachings.

In a comprehensive report by The Guardian, a close Moroccan neighbour to Attal was approached for comment. His eye apparently filled up with tears as he recalled her designation for him as a “shabbos goy,” an aid to Attal on the sabbath. Being a Muslim himself, he commented, “a Muslim would not do this.”

Nonetheless, the murder and several anti-Semitic killings that have been provoked a call to have certain verses of the Qu’ran in France “banished to obscurity.”