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Antisemitic murder of older women triggers protests in Paris

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PARIS – French leaders and activists rioted on Tuesday protesting against racism after prosecutors filed preliminary charges of murder with anti-Semitic motives Death of an elderly Jewish woman

Mireille Knoll, 85, was arrested on the Friday murdered in her apartment, which was set on fire, according to a French judicial officer.

Two men were detained, according to the official, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media. They said that preliminary charges had been made for robbery, property damage and murder with anti-Semitic motives.

Francis Kalifat, president of the Jewish group CRIF, said Knoll had been stabbed 1

1 times.

Mireille Knoll on the Union of French Jewish Students / EPA

Knoll has reportedly escaped a notorious raid on Parisian Jews in World War II, in which police robbed 13,000 people – including more than 4,000 children – in a stadium and shipped them to the Auschwitz extermination camp in Poland occupied by the Nazis. Less than 100 survived.

At the age of 9, Knoll fled to Portugal with her mother and did not return to France until the end of the war.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo called on "all Parisians" to join a silent march in memory of Knoll on Wednesday. Politicians from across the political spectrum pledged to participate.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that Knoll's death was a "horrific crime" and reiterated his "absolute determination to fight anti-Semitism".

The CRIF compared the murder to that of Sarah Halimi, 65, who was beaten last April and thrown from her balcony. The murder was considered anti-Semitic last month and the suspect is in a psychiatric hospital.

A photo of Mireille Knoll is glued to the door of her apartment. Christophe Ena / AP

This month the French government has presented a plan to combat racism and anti-Semitism, focusing on social media and prevention schools. It also wants to change French law to force Internet platforms to track down and remove illegal content.

An annual nationwide census of racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and anti-Christian acts – most of which contain threats – decreased in 2017 compared to the previous year. However, anti-Semitic violence increased by 26 percent and Jewish places of worship were criminalized by 22 percent.

France is not the only European country that has experienced an outcry over anti-Semitism in recent days.

British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn faces protests over allegations that anti-Semitism is widespread within his Labor Party.

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