An 85-year-old Holocaust survivor was brutally murdered and then burnt on Friday by her Muslim neighbour and an accomplice in a suspected antisemitic attack, according to French police.
Mireille Knoll was stabbed to death in her Paris apartment, with one of the accused men telling prosecutors his accomplice shouted “Allahu Akbar”, before the pair set fire to her body.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said on Monday that it was seeking to charge the pair with the premeditated murder of a vulnerable person for antisemitic motives.
They also face charges of aggravated robbery and destruction of property.
One of her alleged attackers, her 27-year-old neighbour, had reportedly been jailed for rape and sexually assaulting the young daughter of Knoll’s home helo worker. He was caught after police found the victim’s mobile phone in his possession, according to her son.
“My mother accepted everyone. Even the neighbour who murdered her, she has known since he was seven years old,” he told Israeli media.
“At first we weren’t sure [the murder] was due to Antisemitism. We waited for police to say it, and now we know the truth.”
“Until now, I haven’t feltAntisemitism in France. Of course, there were dangerous Muslim extremists, but until today I didn’t feel in danger. I work with people from all walks of French society; many are afraid of Muslim extremists, but I didn’t feel that until now.”
French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted about the horrific crime, saying that he was reaffirming his “absolute determination to fight against antisemitism.”
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
Mrs Knoll’s granddaughter told Israel Radio: “Grandma didn’t believe in evil. That may be the reason she’s no longer with us.”
She explained in a Facebook post over the weekend that this wasn’t an isolated incident for the Jewish community.
“Twenty years ago, I left Paris knowing that neither my future nor that of the Jewish People is to be found there,” she wrote.
“But who would’ve thought that I was leaving my relatives where terrorism and cruelty would lead to such a tragedy.”
“Grandmother was stabbed to death 11 times by a Muslim neighbour she knew well, who made sure to set fire to her home and left us not even one object, a letter, a photograph, to remember her by. All we have are our tears and each other.”
The accused have been remanded in custody and are likely to stay there until their trial.