French police suspect anti-Semitism in murder of 85-year-old

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France is home to western Europe's biggest Jewish population and many in the 400,000-strong community have complained for years of a rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes.

The woman, identified in French media as Mireille Knoll, was stabbed at least 11 times and her body was set on fire. The flat was then set ablaze in an apparent attempt to cover up the murder.

But in the six months before her death she seemed "fed up" and wanted to go back to her family, Mrs Devalonne said. "When he was a boy, he helped her", Knoll's son Daniel told Army Radio. We waited for police to say it, and now we know the truth.Until now, I haven't felt anti-Semitism in France. Many are now pointing out similarities in the case of 66-year-old Jewish woman Sarah Halimi, murdered in Paris last April.

The killing of Knoll came a month after a judge made a decision to treat the murder of a retired Jewish schoolteacher in Paris last April as anti-Semitic, after a long campaign by community groups.

On Monday, investigators said they believed her killing was anti-Semitic.

A French police source said that one of the suspects had a previous conviction for molesting a 12-year-old girl, BBC reported Monday. After the war, Knoll married a fellow Holocaust survivor, who died in the early 2000s, and settled down in Paris, where she lived until her death on Friday. "To attack a Jew is to attack France and the values that constitute the very foundation of the Nation".

During the Holocaust, Knoll was living in Paris during the time of the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup, a Nazi-directed raid and mass arrest of Jews in Paris by the French police, code-named Opération Vent Printanier ("Operation Spring Breeze"), which took place in July 1942.

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"While President Macron and other French leaders have forcefully condemned anti-Semitism, the response of law enforcement and other authorities to expressions and acts of anti-Semitic hatred is particularly important to reinforce a sense of security for Jewish communities", they continued.

It urged "the fullest transparency" by the authorities "so that the motive of this barbaric crime is known as quickly as possible".

The killing has sparked an outcry, with French-Jewish organizations calling for a march in Knoll's memory on Wednesday and saying officials have to be transparent in their investigation.

In 2011, an Islamist gunman shot dead three children and a teacher at a Jewish school in the southwestern city of Toulouse.

According to Paris prosecutors, the victim, Mireille Knoll, suffered from severe arthritis and could hardly move.

"People are extremely shocked and very anxious", Marc Knobel, head of studies at France's Jewish umbrella organization CRIF told The Local.