French police eye anti-Semitism in Holocaust survivor's death

Jewish Holocaust survivor (85) found stabbed to death in Paris flat

France's CRIF Jewish umbrella organization and the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism (BNVCA) called the attack "reminiscent" of the murder of 66-year-old Sarah Halimi, who was thrown off of the balcony of her Paris apartment last year in what was eventually deemed an anti-Semitic attack.

Mireille Knoll, 85, was found dead with 11 stab wounds at her apartment in a working class area of the capital on Friday.

"Security has been stepped up at Jewish institutions, and government leaders are now more willing than ever before to speak out against anti-Semitism whenever it rears its ugly head", she says.

"We are really in shock", Knoll's son said in a statement.

Some French officials have pledged to combat the extremism, especially considering this is not the first suspected anti-Semitic murder in France in the past year.

French politician Meyer Habib has claimed that one of the suspects arrested was the neighbour of the victim, a 35-year-old Muslim man who was already well-known to police.

Sources in the Jewish community said Knoll had complained about threats from her Muslim neighbor, saying he had even threatened to burn her. According to press reports, the second suspect told the police that he heard Knoll's neighbor screaming "allahu akbar" prior to stabbing the elderly woman to death. They allegedly stabbed Knoll and then set her apartment on fire.

The suspect "said that Jews have money, and that was the reason he attacked her", he added.

In the summer of 1942, as Germans and French police were rounding up Jews and placing them in the cycling stadium the Vélodrome d'Hiver Knoll and her mother were able to escape thanks to a Brazilian passport.

On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron described Knoll's killing as a "dreadful crime" on Twitter and said: "I reaffirm my absolute determination to fight against anti-Semitism".

One of the suspects in custody, a 29-year-old man, was a neighbor of Kanol and knew her well, Le Figaro reported. "CRIF expects total transparency in the current investigation, so that the motives for this barbaric crime are known of all as fast as possible".

Jewish groups had reacted angrily to the investigators' delay in declaring that killing an anti-Semitic act.

In 2015, four people were killed in a terrorist attack at a kosher supermarket in Paris.

Speaking to France's leading Jewish group earlier this month, President Macron acknowledged the community's fears and announced new plans to fight racism and anti-Semitism online.

Sharon Nazarian, director of worldwide affairs at the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, says the rising tide of anti-Semitism in France "is so pernicious" because it is coming from all sides.

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