Prosecutors investigating brutal murder of 85-year-old Holocaust survivor say the two Muslims in custody targeted the woman because she was Jewish.
Mirelle Knoll, an Holocaust survivor, was found dead on Friday inside the blackened remains of her apartment, which police suspect was set ablaze after she was attacked.
A forensic examination of the apartment showed that an arsonist started a fire in at least five different areas of that space.
Two Muslims have been detained but have not yet been charged.
A 29-year-old Muslim was arrested on Saturday, with the second Muslim taken into custody on Sunday.
“The barbarity of this murder sends us back to that of Sarah Halimi just one year ago,” Francis Kalifat, president of the CRIF umbrella of French Jewish communities, said in a statement Monday. CRIF is organizing a memorial march in Kanol’s memory Tuesday.
The prosecutor’s office reportedly has asked that the Muslims remain in preventative custody. They will face possible charges of “murder related to the victim’s religion, real or imagined,” as well as aggravated robbery and destruction of property, AFP reported, citing judicial sources.
As a child in Paris, Knoll managed to evade the round-up of Jews during World War Two, Paris lawmaker Meyer Habib said.
Thousands of Jews were brought to the Velodrome d’Hiver cycling track in 1942 and sent on to Nazi death camps.
“The horror of the crime and the violence of the executioners are identical and reflect the negation of the human face,” Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia said in a tweet.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who is visiting Israel, said the theory that Knoll’s death was anti-Semitic was plausible.
“It reminds us of the fundamental and permanent side of this battle (against anti-Semitism),” he said, speaking alongside Prime Minister
Knoll’s murder took place a year to the day after the murder of Sarah Halimi-Attal, a 66-year-old Jewish woman thrown off balcony by her Muslim neighbor in Paris.
Last month, the brutal murder of Sarah Halimi, has been declared an “anti-Semitic attack”, following global outcry at French authorities’ refusal to condemn the murder as an anti-Jewish hate crime.
Noa Goldfarb, a granddaughter of Kanol, wrote on Facebook:
“Twenty years ago, I left Paris knowing that neither my future nor that of the Jewish People is to be found there,” wrote Goldfarb, who lives in Herzliya, Israel. “But who would’ve thought that I was leaving my relatives where terrorism and cruelty would lead to such a tragedy. Grandmother was stabbed to death 11 times by a Muslim neighbor she knew well, who made sure to set fire to her home and left us not even one object, a letter, a photograph, to remember her by. All we have are our tears and each other.”