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28 March 2018, 01:09 | Floyd Cook
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins right speaking at a press conference at a Paris court house
An 85-year-old Holocaust survivor has been stabbed and burned to death in her Paris apartment in a suspected antisemitic murder.
France's Jewish community, the largest in Europe, has complained for years of a rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes. The flat was then set ablaze in an apparent attempt to cover up the murder.
Two men are in custody on charges of murder as well as aggravated robbery and damaging property in a case investigators are treating as anti-Semitic.
"We are really in shock", says Knoll's son, noting his mother had "no money" to tempt her alleged killers.
"Why we are so shaken by this crime are obvious, but one reason for the additional emotion is that she seemed like someone who could have been any of our grandmothers, a nice older woman with no reason why she would have been a target", said Mr. Ejnes.
A police source said he had convictions for rape and sexual assault. The group says a neighbor who had previously made anti-Semitic statements was one of the people under arrest.
The French newspaper Le Mondereported that the first suspect is 27 years old, and one of Knoll's neighbors who used to visit her on a regular basis. "Fewer than 100 survived", reported Times of Israel, which said that Mireille and her mother fled to Portugal before finding their home in France.
An autopsy revealed she had been stabbed repeatedly before being set on fire.
French President Emmanuel Macron said that he was emotional after the "appalling crime" and vowed to fight anti-Semitism, which France's Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia said Monday was robbing the country's Jews of "a human face". "To attack a Jew is to attack France and the values that constitute the very foundation of the Nation".
The World Jewish Congress also called on French authorities to show full transparency in the investigation.
Knoll evaded the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup, which was ordered by Nazi occupiers in 1942 and resulted in the mass arrest of 13,000 French Jews, according to French lawmaker Meyer Habib, Reuters reported.
After the war Ms Knoll settled in Paris and married a Holocaust survivor, who died in the early 2000s.
Halimi's murder reignited the debate over anti-Semitism in working-class districts in France, where Jews have been targeted in several deadly jihadist attacks in recent years.
Knoll's death, discovered the same day that a gunman claimed by the Islamic State killed four people including a police officer who exchanged himself for a hostage, has sparked widespread condemnation of religious hatred.
Knoll's murder comes a month after a judge confirmed that the April 2017 killing of Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old Orthodox Jewish woman, was motivated by anti-Semitism.
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