An 85-year-old survivor of the Holocaust was brutally murdered in her Paris apartment in a crime prosecutors are treating as a possible anti-Semitic attack, Agence France-Presse reports.
Mireille Knoll was found stabbed to death and partially burned after her attackers reportedly tried to set fire to her apartment in a working-class suburb in the French capital.
Two men have been arrested and face possible charges of “murder related to the victim’s religion, real or imagined” as well as aggravated robbery and destruction of property, judicial sources told AFP.
Before her death, Knoll had reportedly called police after a neighbor threatened to set fire to her home.
One of the arrested suspects regularly visited Knoll including earlier on the day of the murder, her son told AFP, asking not to be named.
“We are really in shock. I don’t understand how someone could kill a woman who has no money and who lives in a social housing complex,” he said.
As a child, Knoll only narrowly escaped an infamous roundup of some 13,000 Jews in Paris in 1942 by fleeing to Portugal. After the war, she returned to France and married a Holocaust survivor, who is now deceased.
Read more: It’s Time to Stop Ignoring the New Wave of Anti-Semitism
Jewish advocacy groups have decried the attack on Knoll as a hate crime, the Times of Israel reports, warning that it may indicate rising anti-Semitism in France.
Knoll lived in the same district where Sarah Halimi, an Orthodox Jewish physician and kindergarten teacher was beaten and then thrown out her window to her death in April 2017. Last month, that attack was declared an anti-Semitic act, according to AFP.
Speaking from Jerusalem Monday, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said it was “plausible” that Knoll was also killed because of her religion, and her death revealed the need for a “fundamental and permanent” fight against anti-Semitism.
France’s right-wing opposition leader Laurent Wauquiez said that he hopes “everyone finally opens their eyes to anti-Semitism growing in the country,” according to AFP’s French-language report.
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