French President Emmanuel Macron said the teacher was “the victim of an Islamist attack”. Speaking at the scene of the attack, Macron said the educator was “killed because he was teaching students about freedom of speech, the freedom to believe and not to believe”.
Several French media outlets, including CNN affiliate BFMTV, reported that the teacher recently showed controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad to his students as part of a lesson on free speech. According to the French newspaper Le Monde, some Muslim parents complained at school about the teacher’s decision to use one or more of the cartoons as part of a discussion of the Charlie Hebdo attacks.
Nordine Chaouadi, a parent of one of the school’s students, told Agence France-Presse that the teacher took the Muslim children out of the classroom before showing the cartoons. “My son told me it was just to preserve them, it was out of sheer kindness, because he had to show a caricature of the prophet of Islam and just said to the Muslim children, ‘Get out, I don’t. do not want. to hurt your feelings, “that’s what my son told me,” he said.
Police have provided a few more details about the perpetrator, victim or incident. The anti-terrorism prosecution, which has taken over the investigation into the attack, has not spoken publicly of a motive.
The Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmamin declared on Twitter that he “was kept directly informed” of the situation “from the crisis room (which he) had opened, in liaison with the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister “.
Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer called the attack a “despicable murder of one of his servants, a teacher,” and said his thoughts were with the victim’s family.
Friday’s attack comes as a trial continues into a series of January 2015 terrorist attacks that began with a massacre at the Charlie Hebdo offices following the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.