French authorities have arrested two men in connection with an attack on an 85-year-old Jewish woman, after the Holocaust survivor was found stabbed multiple times at her apartment on Friday.
Mireille Knoll was found dead at her apartment in Paris, where she was allegedly stabbed 11 times before her body was set ablaze, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency.
The country’s minister of the interior said two people have been charged with the murder of the woman, in what’s being treated as a hate crime.
“All necessary means will be mobilized to shed light on the motivations of the perpetrators of this act of barbarism, which recalls the darkest hours of our history,” Gerard Collomb said in a statement. “To attack a Jew is to attack France and the values that constitute the very foundation of the Nation.”
Knoll reportedly escaped a notorious Second World War roundup of Paris Jews, in which police herded some 13,000 people – including more than 4,000 children – into a stadium and shipped them to the Auschwitz death camp in Nazi Germany-occupied Poland. Fewer than 100 survived.
French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the attack and vowed to fight anti-Semitism in his country.
“I want to express my shock at the dreadful crime committed against Mrs. Knoll. I reaffirm my absolute determination to fight against anti-Semitism,” Macron said on social media.
The president of CRIF, an umbrella group for French Jewish organizations, condemned the “barbaric crime,” and likened it to the murder of Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old Jewish woman who was beaten and thrown from her balcony nearly a year ago.
However, according to AFP, it wasn’t until last month that a judge confirmed Halimi’s murder was motivated by anti-Semitism.
“The inhumanity of this murder sends us back to that of Sarah Halimi just one year ago,” CRIF president Francis Kalifat said in a statement. “CRIF expects total transparency in the current investigation, so that the motives for this barbaric crime are known of all as fast as possible.”
CRIF said it had organized a silent march in Knoll’s memory, set for Wednesday afternoon in central Paris.
France’s Jewish community, the largest in Europe, has complained for years of a rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes.
In 2015, vandals desecrated 250 tombstones in a Jewish cemetery in eastern France only days after four Jewish people were killed in an attack on a kosher grocery in Paris. The attack also came just days after two brothers stormed the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people.
–with files from Reuters
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