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Thousands march in protest after Holocaust survivor stabbed, set on fire in gruesome Paris murder

Thousands march in Paris, protesting the killing of holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll. (FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)

A silent march involving several thousand people took place in Paris on Wednesday, honoring the memory of a holocaust survivor who was brutally murdered last week.

The body of an 85-year-old Jewish woman, Mireille Knoll, was found in her Paris apartment on Friday. She had been stabbed 11 times, and her corpse had been set on fire.

Her murder is being investigated in as an anti-Semitic crime.

Two suspects have been detained in the slaying, both reportedly men in their twenties who were known to authorities.

Knoll had escaped a 1942 round-up of Parisian Jews during World War II, when she was a child. Leading Jewish group CRIF claims that one of the suspects under arrest for Knoll's murder is a neighbor who previously had made anti-Semitic remarks. Family members of Knoll say she had treated the neighbor "like a son" — he previously served prison time for the sexual assault of a minor.

While the French government has been hesitant to brand crimes as anti-Semitic of late, growing public pressure is drawing attention to possible trends in such attacks. One sign held up at the march read, "In France, grandmothers are killed for being Jewish."

Just streets away from Knoll's residence, a 66-year-old Jewish woman was murdered roughly a year ago. The victim, Sarah Halimi, was an Orthodox Jewish physician and kindergarten teacher who was thrown out a window after being beaten in her apartment.

A neighbor was also accused in the killing of Halimi, and other residents of the complex testified that they heard the suspect yell "Allahu Akbar" during the attack. Halimi was the only Jewish resident in the building, according to relatives.

French journalist Noemie Halioua drew correlations between the two murders, saying "Both victims were elderly women who lived alone and who had both previously complained of threats. There is also the barbarity of the crimes and the fact that in both cases the victims were fragile women."

Writer and activist Bernard-Henri Levy also pointed to the growing anxieties in France's Jewish communities. He said, "There are two contradictory elements here. On the one hand, it's true that Republican institutions are exemplary and do everything they can in the face of a rising anti-Semitism. But on the other, I am obligated to say that Jews are again being killed on the streets of Paris by virtue of being Jewish."

Levy continued, "Even in the 1930's, that was not the case in such an extent. What we see today is new, horrible and intolerable."

Chief rabbi of Paris, Haim Korsia, said "What the Nazis were unable to do, criminals, thugs have done with the same hatred."

At Wednesdays' march, leaders of several political parties joined in, and France's president, Emmanuel Macron, attended Kroll's funeral earlier in the day.

Another vigil of roughly eighty people was held in Jerusalem, where a crowd mostly comprised of French immigrants lit candles in honor of Knoll's life. The organizer of the Jerusalem ceremony, Sabrina Moise, acknowledge her own love for France, but said the country is "no longer safe for Jews because of galloping anti-Semitism."

One last thing…
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