Grieving family members have gathered for the funeral of an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor who was stabbed to death for being Jewish in a case that has shocked France.
French President Emmanuel Macron joined Mireille Knoll’s relatives and friends for the service in the Paris suburb of Bagneux five days after she was stabbed to death in her flat in the French capital in an anti-Semitic attack.
Macron, 40, said earlier today that Knoll’s attacker ‘murdered an innocent and vulnerable woman because she was Jewish, and in doing so profaned our sacred values and our history.’
He could be seen speaking to Knoll’s son, Daniel, as somber-faced guests arrived at the Jewish section of the cemetery. Later today, silent marches are being held around the country in her honour, and to denounce racism.
Grieving family members have gathered for the funeral of 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll (pictured) who was stabbed to death for being Jewish in a case that has shocked France
Daniel Knoll (third from left), son of Mireille Knoll, and his wife Jovita (in front of him) were pictured in front of the coffin at the Bagneux cemetry , outside Paris today
French President Emmanuel Macron (right) joined Mireille Knoll’s relatives and friends for the service in the Paris suburb of Bagneux five days after she was stabbed to death in her flat in the French capital in an anti-Semitic attack
Mireille Knoll’s death has taken on national importance, reminding France of both historic anti-Semitism and its resurgence in some quarters in recent years.
She was killed on Friday in her apartment, which was then set on fire. Prosecutors filed preliminary charges against two people for murder with anti-Semitic motives, including a neighbor Knoll hosted regularly, according to her son.
Authorities have not released the names of the two men in custody but have said the chief suspect is a 29-year-old with a past conviction who lived in the same building.
A French-Israeli MP Meyer Habib has said he was convinced Mrs Knoll had become the victim of the ‘hatred and barbarism of an Islamist’
Speaking Tuesday to The Associated Press, Daniel Knoll said, ‘My mother had a thirst for knowledge and meeting new people and talking to them, and that’s what killed her.’
Mireille Knoll was forced to flee Paris with her family at the age of nine to escape a notorious World War II roundup of Jews.
After the war she returned to Paris and spent most of her life in the eastern Paris apartment where she was killed, according to her son.
Macron, 40, said earlier today that Knoll’s attacker ‘murdered an innocent and vulnerable woman because she was Jewish, and in doing so profaned our sacred values and our history’
Macron could be seen speaking to Knoll’s son, Daniel, as somber-faced guests arrived at the Jewish section of the cemetery. Later today, silent marches are being held around the country in her honour, and to denounce racism
France’s government presented a plan earlier this month to fight racism and anti-Semitism, focusing on social media and prevention in schools.
Far-right French leader Marine Le Pen is insisting on attending a Paris march held in Knoll’s honour, despite criticism from France’s leading Jewish group.
The head of the CRIF Jewish group said Le Pen’s National Front and members of the far-left would not be welcome at the marches because of anti-Semitic sentiment among their members.
Killed: Mireille Knoll, 85, was found stabbed to death after a fire in her flat in Paris
Le Pen tweeted Wednesday that the CRIF can’t stop her from attending. She has sought to distance herself from the anti-Semitism that stained her party in the past, instead focusing anger on immigrants and Islamic extremists.
The National Front said it was maintaining its appeal to members to attend Wednesday’s marches because Knoll’s son Daniel said ‘everyone, without exception’ is welcome to join.
Speaking on RMC radio, Daniel Knoll said he wanted to encourage national unity and distanced himself from the CRIF’s political position.
‘Whether it is a Jewish mother, a black mother, a Protestant mother, a Muslim mother, they are all our mothers. They have the right to live normally, with love,’ he said.
The death of the frail octogenarian – she was suffering from Parkinson’s disease, one of her sons said – has shocked France’s Jewish community. It comes a year after an Orthodox Jewish woman in her sixties was thrown out of the window of her Paris flat by a neighbour shouting “Allahu Akhbar” (God is greatest).
A judge confirmed just last month that the April 2017 murder of Sarah Halimi was motivated by anti-Semitism, a delay that drew the ire of several Jewish groups.
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.
A French-Israeli MP Meyer Habib has said he was convinced Mrs Knoll had become the victim of the ‘hatred and barbarism of an Islamist’, who ‘stabbed her eleven times in her family flat’. The apartment block is pictured above
A picture taken on Tuesday shows the window of the apartment of Mireille Knoll in Paris sealed by the police, after she was found dead in her apartment on March 23 by firefighters called to extinguish a blaze
A picture taken on Tuesday shows Mireille Knoll’s heart-shaped documents and seals of the police posted on the door of her apartment in Paris after she was found dead by firefighters called to extinguish a blaze
France’s half-a-million-plus Jewish community is the largest in Europe but has been hit by a wave of emigration to Israel in the past two decades, partly due to the emergence of a virulent strain of anti-Semitism in predominantly immigrant neighbourhoods.
In 2012, an Islamist gunman shot dead three children and a teacher at a Jewish school in the southwestern city of Toulouse.
Three years later, an associate of the two brothers who massacred a group of cartoonists at satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo killed four people in a hostage-taking at a Jewish supermarket in Paris.