85-year-old Holocaust survivor's murder heightens fears of anti-Semitism in France

France's Jewish community, the largest in Europe, has complained for years of a rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes.

Mireille Knoll, 85, was found dead with 11 stab wounds at her apartment in a working class area of the capital on Friday. The flat was then set ablaze in an apparent attempt to cover up the murder.

French authorities said on Tuesday morning that the two suspects had been charged with the murder of Knoll facing charges of "murder related to the victim's religion, real or imagined" as well as aggravated robbery and destruction of property.

In a Facebook post, Knoll's granddaughter attributed the killing to a Muslim neighbor of her grandmother.

"We are really in shock", Knoll's son said in a statement. We waited for police to say it, and now we know the truth.Until now, I haven't felt anti-Semitism in France.

Knoll's killing took place a year to the day after the murder of Sarah Halimi-Attal, a 65-year-old whose death prosecutors believe was anti-Semitic.

Prosecutors say two men have been arrested in connection with the murder.

In addition, Kanol's son told the French news agency AFP that one of the suspects was a regular visitor of his mother whom she treated "like a son". An autopsy showed she had been stabbed several times before the fire. Local media, however, report the man had threatened to set fire to Knoll's home following his release from prison for molesting the 12-year-old daughter of a woman who looked after Knoll.

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Ms. Knoll was a child in Paris when, in the summer of 1942, the French police, cooperating with the Germans, rounded up thousands of the city's Jews, stuffing them into a cycling stadium, the Vélodrome d'Hiver.

"For the Jews of France, the nightmare continues". After the Holocaust, she continued to live in Paris and married a Holocaust survivor.

French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the attack and vowed to fight anti-Semitism in his country.

Almost 8,000 French Jews emigrated to Israel in the wake of the supermarket attack, in which an employee and three customers were shot dead by an Islamist gunman, The Local reports.

Other high-profile attacks on Jewish communities include the 2012 shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse, which left four people dead, and the 2015 jihadist attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris.

Knoll's murder was decried by Jewish organizations in France.

"It reminds us of the fundamental and permanent side of this battle (against anti-Semitism)", he said, speaking alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum.

But she adds that there's still "much more that needs to be done" to ensure the safety and security of Jewish people.

  • Megan Austin