Paris, France — Mireille Knoll, 85, was found dead from multiple stab wounds; her apartment had been set on fire and police had to recover her body. Authorities say that she sustained 11 stab wounds and the fire had partially burned her body.
Two men have been placed into custody, both in their twenties. One had already been arrested for sexual assault of Ms. Knoll’s housekeeper’s daughter (though Ms. Knoll was reportedly unaware of this), and the other was a homeless man with a history of violence. Both hailed from North Africa, though police have refused to disclose any further information on the origin of these men, or any possible motives, as the investigation is ongoing. However, they are certain that the attack was “motivated by the real or supposed adherence to a religion.” This essentially confirms that investigators do believe that the attack was rooted in the fact that she was Jewish.
Emmanuel Macron, President of France, said in a tweet: “I express my emotion at the appalling crime committed against Mrs. Knoll. I reaffirm my absolute determination to fight against anti-Semitism.”
J’exprime mon émotion devant le crime épouvantable commis contre Mme Knoll. Je réaffirme ma détermination absolue à lutter contre l’antisémitisme. https://t.co/FcSb1gqkQo
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) March 26, 2018
Ms. Knoll was a child in Paris when the Nazis were using French police to round up Jews in 1942. Many were sent to concentration camps where they were executed en masse, but she managed to evade capture. This event was known as the “Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup,” and over 13,000 Jews were arrested and sent away, 4,000 of them being children like Ms. Knoll. Many would not return, and it is likely that escaping capture saved her life.
There have been several anti-Semetic attacks that have shook France in the last few years. On April 4, 2017, Sarah Halimi was beaten and thrown out of a window by Kobili Traoré as he shouted “allahou akbar.” Traoré, 27, was an African immigrant from Mali, and also a drug dealer who would later be put into a mental institution. Several significant attacks have occurred, particularly in 2015 and 2016, many of which are rooted in similar Islamic extremist ideologies — in January of 2016, a teenage boy claimed to be in league with ISIS as he attacked a Jewish teacher. In November of 2015, three men stabbed another teacher in Marseille, one of which was wearing an ISIS branded shirt. Other stabbings and anti-Semetic attacks are readily available for research online.
While not a physical attack on a person, 250 gravestones in a Jewish cemetary were vandalized — some were broken, some were toppled entirely. The perpetrators were teenagers between 15 and 17 years old.
As the French continue in the investigation, more details on this particular case will come to light.
Featured image courtesy of the Associated Press.