Hugh Fitzgerald: The Murder of Mireille Knoll


In Paris on March 27, a “marche blanche” — the French term means a solemn and silent march — was held to honor the memory of  Mireille Knoll, the 85-year-old grandmother who was murdered by her Muslim neighbor, and to express indignation at her murder. There were many elements that made this particular victim so touching. Mireille Knoll herself had managed, as a young Jewish girl, aged 9, to somehow escape the roundup in Paris of 13,000 French men, women, and children at the Vel d’Hiv (short for the “Velodrome d’Hiver,” on July 16 and 17, 1942), all of whom were then transported to concentration and extermination camps, including  Auschwitz, with only 100 of the 13,000 returning alive. Having been a survivor of the Holocaust at the age of 9, Mireille Knoll then became the victim, at the age of 85, of Islamic antisemitism, the one that is stalking France today and making French Jews fearful.

Then there is her murderer, a 27-year-old  Muslim neighbor who had known Mireille Knoll for most of his life, had been befriended by her, and often visited her. Indeed, he had visited her the morning of the afternoon he killed her, stabbing her eleven times in her bed and then setting her body and her apartment alight. His accomplice, who appears simply to have enjoyed the spectacle but not taken an active part in her murder, was another Muslim, a 21-year-old homeless man. Both men had criminal records, the Muslim neighbor for, among other crimes, a sexual assault on the daughter of the home health aide who spent a few hours with Mireille Knoll each day, cooking, cleaning the tiny apartment, and helping Mireille Knoll, who had Parkinson’s disease and was wheelchair bound. He had been sentenced for that sexual assault in mid-2017, and was freed by the end of that year. There has been mention that because she was “a Jew,” the Muslims assumed she was “rich, like all the Jews.” That she had lived for decades modestly in her tiny, two-room apartment, apparently made no impression on her attackers. She was a Jew and therefore, to her Muslim who knew exactly how modest was her apartment, she had to be “rich.” This was the same crazed belief of the Muslims who in Paris in 2006 kidnapped, and over three weeks tortured to death Ilan Halimi. Although he came from a modest background, and was himself only a cell phone salesman, his kidnappers  saw him, nonetheless, as “rich” because he was Jewish.

Will the French police, who have declared that there was an “antisemitic” motive for the crime, dare to go any further? Would they be willing to cite the numerous verses in the Qur’an, and stories in the Hadith, that teach Muslims to hate Jews? Will CRIF, the umbrella organization of Jewish groups in France be willing to mention the texts and teachings of Islam, or do they operate under the notion that it’s better not to bring such disturbing material about Islam to public attention, lest Muslims be “offended” by such criticism? At this point, isn’t it past time to tell the truth about Islam and antisemitism?

They could start with the compilation made by Robert Spencer of verses in the Qur’an about the Jews: “Jews are depicted as inveterately evil and bent on destroying the wellbeing of the Muslims. They are the strongest of all people in enmity toward the Muslims (5:82); as fabricating things and falsely ascribing them to Allah (2:79; 3:75, 3:181); claiming that Allah’s power is limited (5:64); loving to listen to lies (5:41); disobeying Allah and never observing his commands (5:13); disputing and quarreling (2:247); hiding the truth and misleading people (3:78); staging rebellion against the prophets and rejecting their guidance (2:55); being hypocritical (2:14, 2:44); giving preference to their own interests over the teachings of Muhammad (2:87); wishing evil for people and trying to mislead them (2:109); feeling pain when others are happy or fortunate (3:120); being arrogant about their being Allah’s beloved people (5:18); devouring people’s wealth by subterfuge (4:161); slandering the true religion and being cursed by Allah (4:46); killing the prophets (2:61); being merciless and heartless (2:74); never keeping their promises or fulfilling their words (2:100); being unrestrained in committing sins (5:79); being cowardly (59:13-14); being miserly (4:53); being transformed into apes and pigs for breaking the Sabbath (2:63-65; 5:59-60; 7:166); and more.”

Spencer has also noted what both “classic Qur’anic commentators,” more recent jihadists, and contemporary scholars say about the Jews:

The classic Qur’anic commentators do not mitigate the Qur’an’s words against Jews, but only add fuel to the fire. Ibn Kathir explained Qur’an 2:61 (“They were covered with humiliation and misery; they drew on themselves the wrath of Allah”) this way: “This Ayah [verse] indicates that the Children of Israel were plagued with humiliation, and that this will continue, meaning that it will never cease. They will continue to suffer humiliation at the hands of all who interact with them, along with the disgrace that they feel inwardly.” Another Middle Ages commentator of lingering influence, Abdallah ibn Umar al-Baidawi, explains the same verse this way: “The Jews are mostly humiliated and wretched either of their own accord, or out of coercion of the fear of having their jizya [punitive tax] doubled.”

Ibn Kathir notes Islamic traditions that predict that at the end of the world, “the Jews will support the Dajjal (False Messiah), and the Muslims, along with ‘Isa [Jesus], son of Mary, will kill the Jews.” The idea in Islam that the end times will be marked by Muslims killing Jews comes from the prophet Muhammad himself, who said, “The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.’” This is, not unexpectedly, a favorite motif among contemporary jihadists.

Not just contemporary jihadists, but modern-day mainstream Islamic authorities take these passages seriously. The former Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, who was the most respected cleric in the world among Sunni Muslims, called Jews “the enemies of Allah, descendants of apes and pigs.” The late Saudi sheikh Abd al-Rahman al-Sudayyis, imam of the principal mosque in the holiest city in Islam, Mecca, said in a sermon that Jews are “the scum of the human race, the rats of the world, the violators of pacts and agreements, the murderers of the prophets, and the offspring of apes and pigs.”

Another Saudi sheikh, Ba’d bin Abdallah al-Ajameh al-Ghamidi, made the connection explicit: “The current behavior of the brothers of apes and pigs, their treachery, violation of agreements, and defiling of holy places … is connected with the deeds of their forefathers during the early period of Islam–which proves the great similarity between all the Jews living today and the Jews who lived at the dawn of Islam.”

It is too bad that the organizers of this Silent March did not think to have certain signs carried by participants. Not many, but a telling few dozen at the front of the march of thousands. On each sign, there could have been written across the top “Is This Why?” and written underneath, one of a dozen Qur’anic verses concerning the Jews. The television cameramen filming the march could not avoid capturing those messages, which then, once having been seen by millions of television viewers, would almost certainly provoke discussion. Imagine, as one example, a large sign reading “Is This Why?” and underneath it, “Allah has ‘cursed them for their unbelief’ (Qur’an 4:46).” Or another sign, and under “Is This Why?” a different Qur’anic quote, abridged to fit the sign: “We [Allah] said unto them: Be ye apes, despised and hated!” (Qur’an 2:65). In this way, the Silent March could further public awareness about the textual basis of Islamic antisemitism, as some of the marchers hold up for the cameras signs with Qur’anic verses that promote hatred of Jews, the very verses that the French public most needs to know about, if it is to come to grips with Muslim antisemitism. It is not enough, it has never been enough, to refer to “Islamic antisemitism” without more. That’s too general. It does not convince. Neither does it teach.  Chapter and verse from the Qur’an must be given (and Robert Spencer has already provided a comprehensive list of Qur’anic verses on the Jews, the very one I’ve quoted above). And perhaps at the next march — unfortunately, we all know there will be more Muslims murdering more Jews in France, just because they are Jews — signs will be held aloft that provide quotes from the Qur’an, and help explain “why” these murders are taking place. That would be a fitting tribute to the memory of Mireille Knoll.

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