A Jewish woman who survived the Nazi horrors or World War II was brutally killed in Paris during an anti-Semitic attack that authorities say a perpetrator justified on the grounds of excessive Jewish wealth.
French authorities have two men in custody who are suspected of stabbing to death Mireille Knoll last Friday before setting her Paris apartment ablaze. Ms. Knoll, 85, evaded the Vel d’Hiv round-up and deportation of 13,000 Jews in 1942 due to her mother’s Brazilian passport.
“Membership, real or supposed, of […] a particular religion” motivated her killing, the Paris prosecutor’s office said on Monday.
“To attack a Jew is to attack France, and the values that are the very basis of the nation,” Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said in response to the killing, The New York Times reported Monday.
The two hate crime suspects, men in their twenties, have not been publicly identified, but there are suggestive details.
Francis Kalifat, the head of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France, told reporters that the main suspect is of North African origin.
“These are not just thugs,” Mr. Kalifat said, the Times reported. “She was attacked because she was Jewish. This is what characterizes anti-Semitism in our country.”
The suspect “said that Jews have money, and that was the reason he attacked her,” he added. “She was absolutely massacred. Eleven knife wounds. That is hatred of the Jews; we see it in the fury of the murderer. This is how we recognize anti-Semitism.”
A French police source said that one of the suspects had a previous conviction for molesting a 12-year-old girl, BBC reported Monday.
Ms. Knoll’s killing comes less than a year since a 65-year-old Orthodox Jewish woman named Sarah Halimi died in an anti-Semitic attack — she was beaten in Paris and thrown out of a window.
Meyer Habib, a member of Parliament, said the murders follow a distinct pattern.
“They start with the Jews, and afterward they kill other Frenchmen,” he said, the Times reported. “Jews are being killed because they are Jews. That is very serious.”