The terrible death of Lola, a crime that horrifies France and that the extreme right uses against immigration | International
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Umbrella in the dark. It is seven in the evening on Thursday, October 20, it is already night. A few hundred people have gathered in Denfert-Rochereau square in Paris. They have been convened by an organization called the Institute for Justice. A giant screen broadcasts testimonies of parents of children and young people murdered in recent years in France.
“Laxity kills”, reads a motto of the concentration. Among those who have called for mobilization is one of the leading figures of the new French extreme right, the failed candidate for the presidency of France in the spring of 2022: Éric Zemmour. Next to him, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, wayward niece of Marine Le Pen, the head of the parliamentary extreme right. Her aunt is not here. This is too much even for her, in search of her respectability that will finally lead her to power.
The act is presented as a tribute to Lola, the 12-year-old girl who on Friday afternoon, October 14, was raped, tortured and murdered in the building where she lived in the 19th district of Paris. At night, she appeared in the courtyard of the building inside a trunk.
Hours later, police arrested the suspect, identified in the French press as Dahbia B., a woman born in Algeria 24 years ago. Since 2016, she has lived in France, where she arrived with an expired student visa and subject to the obligation to leave French territory due to the lack of legal residence documents.
The extreme right – also Marine Le Pen – did not take a moment, after knowing these details, to more or less directly point out the Government and President Emmanuel Macron for his alleged laxity with immigration. Zemmour has applied a newly coined label to Lola’s murder: Francocide. It would amount to the murder of a Frenchman for the mere fact of being French, although nothing indicates that this is the case in this case.
The neighborhood at the foot of the Buttes-Chaumont, a park on a hill in the northeast of Paris, is one of those corners that still retains the popular flavor of the capital in full gentrification. Here a population of North African origin, Orthodox Jews, old Spanish immigrants are mixed.
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Lola and her parents, janitors in the 12-story building at 119 rue Manin, were originally from northern France. Every day, when leaving the Georges Brassens school in the afternoon, Lola walked the 350 meters that separate the center from her house.
“It could have happened to anyone”
“This is like a small town, we all know each other and get along well,” describes Awa, a 32-year-old neighbor. She is accompanied by her daughter: she goes to the same school that Lola went to. “It could have happened to anyone’s daughter,” she sighs.
That Friday, Lola finished classes at 3:00 p.m. A quarter of an hour later, the surveillance cameras recorded the scene at the entrance of the building: Dahbia, whose sister lived there, approached Lola. It is not known how the woman convinced the girl to go up to her sister’s apartment on the sixth floor.
What must have happened there has been reconstructed, based on leaks of Dahbia’s confusing statement to the police during interrogations, The Parisien and other media. The woman forced the girl to undress. He abused her. He bound her hands and feet and covered her face with a bandage. He strangled her and stabbed her. She put the body in a trunk and took it down to the street at 5:00 p.m. along with two other suitcases.
“She was incapable of taking her suitcase out on her own!” Sarafina, a Galician immigrant who arrived in France in the 1970s and, retired after a life of precarious work, lives in the neighbourhood. Like others, she elaborates theories of all kinds: she insinuates that there was an accomplice. The fact is that Dahbia was looking for someone to help her move her cargo to the outskirts of Paris. On her journey, a friend will take her with her suitcases to the outskirts of the capital. She then she will return to the street of crime. She there she will leave the trunk before turning to leave for the outskirts of the city. At 11:15 p.m., a homeless person will discover her body in the inner courtyard of the building on rue Manin.
At dawn on Saturday the 15th, Dahbia was arrested. She is charged with “murder of a child under 15 accompanied by torture and barbaric acts” and for “rape of a minor.” Since then, she has given conflicting accounts. Details have circulated in the press that suggest that she suffers from serious mental problems, but also that she wanted revenge for a dispute with Lola’s mother.
“She’s not crazy!” Says Sarafina, the Galician neighbor. In front of the building where Lola lived and died, neighbors, onlookers, journalists crowd. “Here we live in permanent insecurity,” says Claire-Amélie, a 47-year-old salesperson. And Véronique, a 52-year-old teacher, complains: “There are many homeless people: some harmless, also migrants who have not found accommodation, drug addicts and mentally ill people who nobody takes care of.”
The entrance of the building, and that of the school, have become small sanctuaries: dozens of bouquets of white roses, drawings and messages. “For you, my Lola. Rest in peace, my princess.” “Dear Lola, we are sorry for what happened to you. […]. You are our age and we thought that you came back super happy from class and that you could never return home for the last time. We love you, my life. From S. and S.”
Pain and solidarity run through the country. Lola’s parents have repeatedly asked that her daughter not be used for political purposes. Not everyone has paid attention to them.
“The most shocking thing is that this drama could have been avoided,” commented Jean Messiha, a former Le Pen and Zemmour collaborator, on the terrace of a cafe in Denfert-Rochereau after Thursday’s rally. “If the state had done its job and exercised its responsibility, this person would have been expelled from France and Lola would still be here.”
Macron, who received the girl’s parents at the Elysee on Tuesday, declared: “I think above all of Lola’s parents, her brother and her stepbrother, in the blow to this incredibly dignified and united family at this time, and I think that above all they need the respect and affection of the nation.”
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