A man armed with a knife murdered a high school history teacher on Friday by slitting his throat outside his school in a suburb of Paris, police said, in an attack treated as terrorism. The attacker was shot by a police patrol a few blocks away. The teacher had shown students in his class cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, which, according to a police source, are considered blasphemous by Muslims.
The French counter-terrorism prosecutor said it was investigating the attack, which took place in Conflans Sainte-Honorine, a residential suburb northwest of Paris. President Emmanuel Macron arrived on the scene Friday evening. French broadcaster BFMTV reported that the suspected attacker was 18 years old and born in Moscow.
The incident had echoes of the attack five years ago on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. It published caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, unleashing an issue that still casts a shadow over French society. Less than a month ago, a man from Pakistan used a carving knife to attack and injure two people who were on a cigarette break outside the offices where Charlie Hebdo was stationed at the time of the 2015 attack.
In Friday’s attack, a police source said witnesses had heard the attacker shout “Allahu Akbar” or “God is greatest.” A police spokesman said the information was being checked. Another police source also said the victim was decapitated during the attack, but this was not confirmed. The attack took place on the street in front of the high school where the victim worked.
“MONSTROSITY” “Tonight the Republic is attacked with the despicable murder of one of its servants, a teacher,” wrote French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer. Twitter.
“Our unity and our determination are the only responses faced by the monstrosity of Islamic terrorism.” A Twitter thread posted Oct. 9 contained allegations that a history teacher in Conflans Sainte-Honorine had shown cartoons to students that would depict the prophet Mohammed.
The thread featured a video of a man saying that his daughter, a Muslim, was one of the students in the class and that she was shocked and upset by the teacher’s actions. Insisted the man in the video Twitter users to file a complaint with the authorities and remove the teacher from his post. Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the video.
CRISIS CENTER French Interior Minister Gerard Darmanin said he had set up a crisis center to deal with Friday’s attack.
France has experienced a series of violent attacks by Islamist militants in recent years, including the 2015 Charlie Hebdo killings, and November 2015 bombings and shootings at the Bataclan Theater and sites around Paris, those 130 people died. The cartoons issue was revived last month when Charlie Hebdo decided to republish them to mark the start of the trial of accomplices in the 2015 attack.
Al-Qaeda, the militant Islamist group that claimed responsibility for those murders, threatened to attack Charlie Hebdo again after it republished the cartoons. The magazine said last month that it published to assert its right to freedom of expression, and to show that it would not be silenced by violent attacks. That view has been supported by many prominent French politicians and public figures.
In response to Friday’s attack outside the school, Charlie Hebdo wrote to her Twitter account: “Intolerance has crossed a new threshold and does not seem to be a reason for imposing terror on our country.”
- France launches terror investigation after teacher dies in knife attack