A French teacher who had shown caricatures of Muhammad to his students was beheaded on Friday near Paris, and his assailant was killed by police. President Emmanuel Macron called the attack a “blatant Islamist terrorist attack”.
The history teacher was killed on the public highway not far from his college in Bois d’Aulne, in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine (Yvelines), in the Paris region. He had recently shown his students drawings satirising Muhammad during a course on freedom of expression, according to a police source.
The national anti-terrorism prosecution announced to AFP that it immediately seized the investigation, opened for “assassination in connection with a terrorist enterprise” and “criminal terrorist association”.
Four people, including a minor, were taken into police custody overnight from Friday to Saturday, AFP learned from a judicial source. These people come from the family circle of the attacker, according to a source close to the investigation.
Macron on site
President Emmanuel Macron visited the scene of the attack in the evening. After meeting with college staff, Macron called on “the entire nation” to unite alongside teachers to “protect and defend them”. “All and all of us will unite. They will not pass. The obscurantism and the violence that accompanies it will not win,” he said, visibly moved.
The attacker shouted “Allah Akbar” before being shot by the police. According to a judicial source, an identity document was found on the assailant indicating that he was born in 2002 in Moscow. But investigators are waiting for a formal identification.
Investigators are interested in a message posted on Twitter by an account now closed and which shows in particular a photo of the victim’s head. They are looking to see if it was posted by the abuser or someone else.
Under this photo, a message threatens Emmanuel Macron, “the leader of the infidels”, and its author claims to want to avenge the one “who dared to belittle Muhammad” (name of the prophet Muhammad in English).
Police officers from the Conflans-Saint-Honorine anti-crime brigade, about 50 km northwest of Paris, were called around 5 p.m. for a suspicious individual prowling around a school, according to police.
On the spot, the police discovered the victim, and 200 meters away, in the town of Eragny (Val-d’Oise), they tried to stop a man who threatened them with a bladed weapon and fired , seriously injuring him, before he succumbed to his injuries.
Shock and misunderstanding
Misunderstanding dominated Friday among residents met by AFP in this residential area, which they describe as calm and without history. “Nothing ever goes through here,” says, taken aback, Mohand Amara, a 45-year-old resident out, as usual, to walk his dog along the college grounds.
Rodrigo Arenas, co-president of the FCPE, the first association of parents of pupils, said to have received a report a week ago which referred to “an extremely angry father” after the publication in class of a caricature of Muhammad.
Previously, according to Mr. Arenas, the teacher “invited Muslim students out of the classroom” before showing a caricature of the prophet crouching with a star drawn on his buttocks and the inscription “a star is born”.
According to the father of a pupil who was in this 4th grade class and who understood the teacher’s desire not to shock certain children, the sequence sparked a lively controversy with other parents.
The attack sparked a wave of indignation among the political class. In the National Assembly, the deputies rose to “salute the memory” of the professor and denounce a “abominable attack”.
This attack comes three weeks to the day after the chopper attack perpetrated by a 25-year-old Pakistani in front of the former Charlie Hebdo premises, which left two seriously injured.
The weekly expressed on Twitter “its feeling of horror and revolt after a teacher in the exercise of his profession was murdered by a religious fanatic”.