Issued on: 17/10/2020 – 09:19 Modified: 17/10/2020 – 09:20
Nine people have been arrested for beheading a French schoolteacher in a Paris suburb on Friday. The suspect who was shot by police shortly after the attack was an 18-year-old Chechen, according to an AFP source.
The man suspected of beheading the teacher who showed his students cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed was an 18-year-old Moscow-born Chechen, a source told AFP on Saturday in an act that President Emmanuel Macron described as an “Islamist terrorist attack”.
Nine people were detained on Friday over the murder, including the parents of a child at the school where the teacher worked, said the source, who asked not to be named.
According to the source, the two detained parents had signaled their disagreement with the teacher’s decision to show the cartoons. Others detained for questioning are members of the suspected social circle, but not family members.
The assailant was shot by police and later died of his injuries.
The teacher had recently discussed caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in class, according to police and media sources.
France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor said it was investigating the attack, which took place in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a suburb northwest of Paris, around 1 p.m. 17:00 (1500 GMT) Friday.
Macron set course for the site after an emergency meeting of the French Interior Ministry.
Dismissed by an “Islamist terrorist attack”, the French president said the whole country stood united behind his teachers.
“A citizen has been murdered today because he was a teacher and because he taught freedom of speech,” Macron said near the school where the teacher was killed.
“Terrorists do not share France, obscurantism will not win,” Macron added.
In a tweet, satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo expressed his “feeling of horror and rebellion” at Friday’s attack
Charlie Hebdo shares his horror and revolt sentiment after a teacher in the course of his craft was assassinated by a religious fanatic. We express our most vivacious support to his family, to his neighbors as well as to all the teachers.
– Charlie Hebdo (@Charlie_Hebdo_) October 16, 2020
Police said witnesses had heard the attacker shout “Allahu Akbar”, or “God is great”.
The brutal assassination was an attack on the French nation as a whole, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said on Twitter.
“Our unity and our determination are the only reactions facing Islamist terrorism,” the minister wrote.
FRANCE 24’s Julia Kim reported from the scene of the attack, saying that the teacher had recently held a class on secularism and the controversy surrounding the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
The teacher allegedly “asked his Muslim students to leave the room because he was going to show some cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that could have caused insult,” Kim said, adding that this had angered some parents.
“According to my son, he was super nice, super kind, super kind,” the parent, Nordine Chaouadi, told AFP. The teacher “simply said to the Muslim children:” Go, I do not want it to hurt your feelings. “That’s what my son told me,” the parent said.
Shadow of Charlie Hebdo drab
Last month, a 25-year-old Pakistani man attacked two people with a meat clover over the Charlie Hebdo comics, which are considered by Muslims to be blasphemous.
The attacker seriously injured two employees of a television production agency whose offices are located in the same block that previously housed the satirical weekly. Both survived.
This attack came three weeks into an ongoing lawsuit against suspected accomplices from the authors of the attacks on Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 and a Jewish supermarket that also saw a policewoman shot down the street.
Seventeen people were killed in the three-day storm that heralded a wave of Islamist violence in France that has so far claimed more than 250 lives.
Al Qaeda, the militant Islamist group that claimed responsibility for the 2015 attack, threatened to attack Charlie Hebdo again after re-releasing the cartoons at the start of the trial.
The magazine said last month that it published the cartoons to assert its right to freedom of expression and to show that it would not be run in silence by violent attacks. This position was backed by many prominent French politicians and public figures.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP)