Far-right, hard-left leaders forced out of French march to honor Jewish murder victim

PARIS, March 28 (Reuters) - Leaders of the far-right National Front and hard-left France Unbowed movement met booes on Wednesday when they joined a march in honor of a Holocaust survivor killed in a suspected anti-Semitic attack and were eventually forced to leave it.

The National Front's Marine Le Pen and France Unbowed's Jean-Luc Melenchon had defied a prominent Jewish group's wishes by taking part in the march to honor Mireille Knoll.

The 85-year-old was found dead with 11 stab wounds at her apartment in a working-class district of Paris on Friday. The apartment was set ablaze after the attack and her body badly burnt. Police suspect that Knoll's Jewish religion was a motive for the killing.

13 PHOTOS
March and vigil honor Jewish murder victim Mireille Knoll
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March and vigil honor Jewish murder victim Mireille Knoll
People and officials attend a gathering, organised by the CRIF Jewish organisation, in memory of Mireille Knoll, in Paris, France, March 28, 2018. Mireille Knoll, 85, was found dead with 11 stab wounds at her apartment in a working-class district of Paris on Friday. The apartment was set ablaze after the attack and her body badly burnt. Police suspect that Knoll's Jewish religion was a motive for the killing. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
A pin with a portrait of Mireille Knoll is seen on a man's jacket during a gathering, in Paris, France, March 28, 2018. Mireille Knoll, 85, was found dead with 11 stab wounds at her apartment in a working-class district of Paris on Friday. The apartment was set ablaze after the attack and her body badly burnt. Police suspect that Knoll's Jewish religion was a motive for the killing. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
An official holds a white rose as he attends a gathering, organised by the CRIF, in memory of Mireille Knoll, in Paris, France, March 28, 2018. Mireille Knoll, 85, was found dead with 11 stab wounds at her apartment in a working-class district of Paris on Friday. The apartment was set ablaze after the attack and her body badly burnt. Police suspect that Knoll's Jewish religion was a motive for the killing. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
People wrapped in a French flag hug as they attend a gathering, organised by the CRIF Jewish organisation, in memory of Mireille Knoll, in Paris, France, March 28, 2018. Mireille Knoll, 85, was found dead with 11 stab wounds at her apartment in a working-class district of Paris on Friday. The apartment was set ablaze after the attack and her body badly burnt. Police suspect that Knoll's Jewish religion was a motive for the killing. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
People attend a gathering, organized by CRIF Jewish organisation, in memory of Mireille Knoll, an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor stabbed and burnt in her Paris apartment in what authorities suspect could be an anti-Semitic murder, in Marseille France, March 28, 2018. The placard reads " France is also all our grandmothers". REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
People attend a gathering, organized by CRIF Jewish organisation, in memory of Mireille Knoll, an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor stabbed and burnt in her Paris apartment in what authorities suspect could be an anti-Semitic murder, in Marseille, France March 28, 2018. The banner reads " Stop racism". REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
Marine Le Pen, leader of the French far-righ Front National (FN) party, attends a gathering, organised by the CRIF Jewish organisation, in memory of Mireille Knoll, in Paris, France, March 28, 2018. Mireille Knoll, 85, was found dead with 11 stab wounds at her apartment in a working-class district of Paris on Friday. The apartment was set ablaze after the attack and her body badly burnt. Police suspect that Knoll's Jewish religion was a motive for the killing. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
Israelis lights candles during a gathering in memory of Mireille Knoll in Jerusalem, March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
People including French activist and Nazi hunter, Serge Klarsfeld and his wife Nazi hunter, Beate Klarsfeld, attend a gathering, organised by the CRIF, in memory of Mireille Knoll, in Paris, France, March 28, 2018. Mireille Knoll, 85, was found dead with 11 stab wounds at her apartment in a working-class district of Paris on Friday. The apartment was set ablaze after the attack and her body badly burnt. Police suspect that Knoll's Jewish religion was a motive for the killing. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
People and officials attend a gathering, organised by the CRIF, in memory of Mireille Knoll, in Paris, France, March 28, 2018. Mireille Knoll, 85, was found dead with 11 stab wounds at her apartment in a working-class district of Paris on Friday. The apartment was set ablaze after the attack and her body badly burnt. Police suspect that Knoll's Jewish religion was a motive for the killing. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
People and officials attend a gathering, organised by the Union of French Jewish Students (UEJF), in memory of Mireille Knoll, in Strasbourg, France, March 28, 2018. Mireille Knoll, 85, was found dead with 11 stab wounds at her apartment in a working-class district of Paris on Friday. The apartment was set ablaze after the attack and her body badly burnt. Police suspect that Knoll's Jewish religion was a motive for the killing. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler
People and officials including French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb (2ndR) ,CRIF Jewish organisation president Francis Kalifat (C), Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen (2ndL) and politician Christophe Castaner attend a gathering, organised by the CRIF, in memory of Mireille Knoll, in Paris, France, March 28, 2018. Mireille Knoll, 85, was found dead with 11 stab wounds at her apartment in a working-class district of Paris on Friday. The apartment was set ablaze after the attack and her body badly burnt. Police suspect that Knoll's Jewish religion was a motive for the killing. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
People and officials attend a gathering, organised by the CRIF, in memory of Mireille Knoll, in Paris, France, March 28, 2018. Mireille Knoll, 85, was found dead with 11 stab wounds at her apartment in a working-class district of Paris on Friday. The apartment was set ablaze after the attack and her body badly burnt. Police suspect that Knoll's Jewish religion was a motive for the killing. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
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Le Pen and Melenchon joined the march but they met a hostile reception from participants and when tensions threatened to boil over they pulled out. Le Pen later managed to rejoin the demonstration.

Knoll was buried on Wednesday in Bagneux on the southern outskirts of Paris ahead of the march organized by Crif, an umbrella body of French Jewish groups. Crif's leader told far-right and far-left groups not to attend the rally.

"Anti-Semites are over-represented in the far left and the far right, making those parties ones that you don't want to be associated with," Crif director Francis Kalifat told RTL radio. "Therefore they are not welcome."

His comments underscore the enduring alarm among France's 400,000-strong Jewish community over anti-Semitism, which Interior Minister Gerard Collomb on Tuesday described as a cancer that must not be allowed to eat away at the nation.

"We've got our place here. Once again (the Crif) have got the wrong enemy. We've been fighting Islamist anti-Semitism for years," Le Pen said defiantly despite the hostile reception she received.

Other marches were held in Lyon, Marseille and Strasbourg.

21 PHOTOS
Mireille Knoll -- Holocaust survivor found stabbed, burned to death in her apartment
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Mireille Knoll -- Holocaust survivor found stabbed, burned to death in her apartment
This AFP TV video frame grab shows a picture of Mireille Knoll posted on the door of her apartment in Paris on March 27, 2018 after she was found dead in her apartment on March 23 by firefighters called to extinguish a blaze. Two people have been charged with the murder of an 85-year-old French Jewish woman, who was stabbed and whose body was then set alight in a crime being treated as anti-Semitic, a judicial source said on March 27, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Laetitia PERON (Photo credit should read LAETITIA PERON/AFP/Getty Images)
This general view shows an apartment block in the 11th arrondisement of Paris on March 26, 2018, where the alleged murder of an 85-year-old Jewish woman took place. French prosecutors are treating the murder of a woman whose partly charred body was found in her Paris home as an anti-Semitic attack, judicial sources said March 26, 2018. Mireille Knoll, who managed to flee a mass roundup of Jews in Paris during World War II, was found dead March 23, 2018, in her apartment in the east of the French capital, where she lived alone. / AFP PHOTO / Thomas Samson (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Two people place a picture and tributes to Mireille Knoll on the fence surrounding her building in Paris on March 27, 2108, after she was found dead in her apartment on March 23 by firefighters called to extinguish a blaze. Two people have been charged with the murder of an 85-year-old French Jewish woman, who was stabbed and whose body was then set alight in a crime being treated as anti-Semitic, a judicial source said on March 27, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Lionel BONAVENTURE (Photo credit should read LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)
This general view shows an apartment block in the 11th arrondisement of Paris on March 26, 2018, where the alleged murder of an 85-year-old Jewish woman took place. French prosecutors are treating the murder of a woman whose partly charred body was found in her Paris home as an anti-Semitic attack, judicial sources said March 26, 2018. Mireille Knoll, who managed to flee a mass roundup of Jews in Paris during World War II, was found dead March 23, 2018, in her apartment in the east of the French capital, where she lived alone. / AFP PHOTO / Thomas Samson (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A man stands in front of a picture of Mireille Knoll and a message announcing a 'Marche Blanche' condemning the alleged antisemitic motive for of her killing, placed on the fence surrounding her building in Paris on March 27, 2018, after she was found dead in her apartment on March 23 by firefighters called to extinguish a blaze. Two people have been charged with the murder of an 85-year-old French Jewish woman, who was stabbed and whose body was then set alight in a crime being treated as anti-Semitic, a judicial source said on March 27, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Lionel BONAVENTURE (Photo credit should read LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on March 27, 2018 shows a picture of Mireille Knoll, heart-shaped documents and seals of the police posted on the door of her apartment in Paris after she was found dead in her apartment on March 23 by firefighters called to extinguish a blaze. Two people have been charged with the murder of an 85-year-old French Jewish woman, who was stabbed and whose body was then set alight in a crime being treated as anti-Semitic, a judicial source said on March 27, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Lionel BONAVENTURE (Photo credit should read LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on March 27, 2018 shows the window of the apartment of Mireille Knoll in Paris sealed by the police, after she was found dead in her apartment on March 23 by firefighters called to extinguish a blaze. Two people have been charged with the murder of an 85-year-old French Jewish woman, who was stabbed and whose body was then set alight in a crime being treated as anti-Semitic, a judicial source said on March 27, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Lionel BONAVENTURE (Photo credit should read LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on March 27, 2018 shows a picture of Mireille Knoll and a message announcing a 'Marche Blanche' condemning the alleged antisemitic motive for of her killing, placed on the fence surrounding her building in Paris, after she was found dead in her apartment on March 23 by firefighters called to extinguish a blaze. Two people have been charged with the murder of an 85-year-old French Jewish woman, who was stabbed and whose body was then set alight in a crime being treated as anti-Semitic, a judicial source said on March 27, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Lionel BONAVENTURE (Photo credit should read LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman places a picture and tributes to Mireille Knoll on the fence surrounding her building in Paris on March 27, 2108, after she was found dead in her apartment on March 23 by firefighters called to extinguish a blaze. Two people have been charged with the murder of an 85-year-old French Jewish woman, who was stabbed and whose body was then set alight in a crime being treated as anti-Semitic, a judicial source said on March 27, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Lionel BONAVENTURE (Photo credit should read LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)
Red tape police seals and a photograph are seen on the front door of the appartment of Mireille Knoll in Paris, France, March 27, 2018. Mireille Knoll, 85, was found dead on Friday at her apartment in Paris's central 11th district. She had been stabbed multiple times and her flat set alight. REUTERS/Clotaire Achi
A picture taken on March 27, 2018 shows the window of the apartment of Mireille Knoll in Paris sealed by the police, after she was found dead in her apartment on March 23 by firefighters called to extinguish a blaze. Two people have been charged with the murder of an 85-year-old French Jewish woman, who was stabbed and whose body was then set alight in a crime being treated as anti-Semitic, a judicial source said on March 27, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Lionel BONAVENTURE (Photo credit should read LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)
Journalists film outside the building of the apartment of Mireille Knoll in Paris on March 27, 2108, after she was found dead in her apartment on March 23 by firefighters called to extinguish a blaze. Two people have been charged with the murder of an 85-year-old French Jewish woman, who was stabbed and whose body was then set alight in a crime being treated as anti-Semitic, a judicial source said on March 27, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Lionel BONAVENTURE (Photo credit should read LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)
Red tape police seals and a photograph are seen on the front door of the appartment of Mireille Knoll in Paris, France, March 27, 2018. Mireille Knoll, 85, was found dead on Friday at her apartment in Paris's central 11th district. She had been stabbed multiple times and her flat set alight. REUTERS/Clotaire Achi
A man places a picture of Mireille Knoll and a message announcing a 'Marche Blanche' condemning the alleged antisemitic motive for of her killing, placed on the fence surrounding her building in Paris on March 27, 2018, after she was found dead in her apartment on March 23 by firefighters called to extinguish a blaze. Two people have been charged with the murder of an 85-year-old French Jewish woman, who was stabbed and whose body was then set alight in a crime being treated as anti-Semitic, a judicial source said on March 27, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Lionel BONAVENTURE (Photo credit should read LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)
This AFP TV video frame grab shows a picture of Mireille Knoll, heart-shaped documents and seals of the police posted on the door of her apartment in Paris on March 27, 2018 after she was found dead in her apartment on March 23 by firefighters called to extinguish a blaze. Two people have been charged with the murder of an 85-year-old French Jewish woman, who was stabbed and whose body was then set alight in a crime being treated as anti-Semitic, a judicial source said on March 27, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Laetitia PERON (Photo credit should read LAETITIA PERON/AFP/Getty Images)
Horrifié par la tragique disparition de Mireille Knoll, rescapée de la Shoah, presque un an jour pour jour après le… https://t.co/na6ru0Wq1T
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85yo Holocaust survivor’s body found charred, stabbed 11 times in #Paris apartment https://t.co/iN9LsxQY9i
Prosecutors in Paris treat murder of 85-year-old Holocaust survivor as antisemitic act https://t.co/60vbD4f4WS
Holocaust survivor stabbed and burnt to death in suspected anti-Semitic murder https://t.co/4U9NnIhzEX
Holocaust survivor, 85, found stabbed to death at home in 'anti-Semitic murder' https://t.co/Cx5DelI7ya https://t.co/4kM2JRHbLs
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Le Pen has strived to rid the party of the toxic anti-Semitic reputation it gained under her father, party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen.

However, France's highest court provided a reminder of the party's past on Tuesday when it upheld the conviction of her father for describing the Nazi gas chambers as a "detail" of history. It confirmed a 30,000 euro ($37,000)fine against him.

Israel's Foreign Ministry condemned Knoll's murder and said it "underlines the need to continue combatting anti-Semitism in all its variations."

Knoll escaped being deported to Auschwitz during World War Two, when 13,000 Jews were rounded up in July 1942 in the capital's Velodrome d'Hiver.

Her son Daniel said the rally should be open to everyone.

"Crif is playing politics but I'm just opening my heart," he told RMC radio.

President Emmanuel Macron's government said the rally should be a moment for national unity.

Macron made reference to Knoll's death in a national tribute to a gendarme killed last week in an Islamist attack. The president said Knoll was murdered "because she was Jewish," by a killer who did not value life. ($1 = 0.8125 euros) (Reporting by Ingrid Melander, Additional reporting by Sophie Louet, Arthur Connan, Leigh Thomas and Marine Pennetier in Paris and Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem Editing by Luke Baker, Alison Williams and Richard Balmforth)

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