An 85-year-old Holocaust survivor was murdered in Paris last Friday and, according to the The Guardian, police are treating her killing as a crime fueled by anti-Semitism.
The body of Mireille Knoll, who lived alone in Paris’s 11th arrondissement, was discovered after a fire broke out in her apartment. It was later revealed that she had been stabbed at least 11 times.
Authorities have revealed few details about the murder, but two suspects have been apprehended. The Times of Israel reports that Knoll’s son, Daniel, said his mother knew one of the suspects, whom she treated “like a son.”
When she was a child, Knoll escaped the notorious 1942 Vélodrome d’Hiver roundup, which saw French authorities arrest some 13,000 Jews and detain them in a Paris sporting arena. Most of the men, women, and children who were held in the arena were subsequently deported to Auschwitz. Knoll’s brutal killing has stirred up considerable grief in France, and Paris Mayor Anne Hildago took to Twitter to express condolences to Knoll’s family and vowed that the prosecutor’s office would investigate the “heinous crime” as a hate-fueled attack.
Anti-Semitic incidents have been on the rise in France, and as The Washington Post points out, Knoll’s murder bears disturbing similarities to the killing of Sarah Halimi, a 66-year-old Jewish physician and kindergarten teacher who also lived in the 11th arrondissement. In April 2016, Halimi was beaten in her apartment and then thrown out of a window. Police suspect Halimi’s Muslim neighbor perpetrated the attack.
Alors que la piste criminelle se confirme et que le parquet de Paris retient le caractère antisémite du meurtre, je renouvelle mon soutien aux proches de Mireille Knoll ainsi qu'à la communauté juive. Toute la lumière doit être faite sur ce crime odieux. https://t.co/yRTn3zvgHb pic.twitter.com/dWmzJoFCeP
— Anne Hidalgo (@Anne_Hidalgo) March 26, 2018
The case became a source of outrage in France after authorities said they would not investigate the murder as an anti-Semitic attack, even though Halimi’s family said the neighbor had harassed the victim with verbal slurs. According to BuzzFeed News, French President Emmanuel Macron personally intervened in the case in response to public criticism, and a court ruled last month that Halimi’s murder had been motivated by anti-Semitism.
Noémie Halioua, a French journalist with Actualité Juive and the author of a book on Halimi’s murder, noted in an interview with The Washington Post that “both victims were elderly women who lived alone and who had both previously complained of threats.”
“There is also the barbarity of the crimes and the fact that in both cases the victims were fragile women,” Halioua said.
According to The Associated Press, two men have been detained in the case and preliminary charges have been filed against them, a source told the AP. The charges include robbery, damaging property, and murder with anti-Semitic motives, the source reportedly said.