‘WILL NOT WIN’:
Macron, who was called ‘leader of the infidels’ in a Twitter post with a photo of the slain teacher, said ‘obscurantism’ would not prevail
- AFP, CONFLANS-SAINTE-HONORINE, France
Man suspected of beheading a French teacher who showed his students caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad was an 18-year-old Chechen, a source said yesterday in what French President Emmanuel Macron called an “Islamist terrorist attack “.
Police arrested nine people in Friday’s attack near the college where the teacher worked in Conflans-Saint-Honorine, a generally quiet northwestern suburb about 30 km from central Paris.
The assailant was shot dead by police and later died of his injuries.
The victim was history teacher Samuel Paty, who had shown cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad as part of a class discussion on free speech that sparked complaints from parents, police said.
Four of the suspect’s relatives – two brothers and his grandparents – were initially arrested by police for questioning.
A judicial source said five other people were detained, including the parents of a child at the school where the teacher worked.
The source, who asked not to be named, said the two detained parents signaled their disagreement with the teacher’s decision to show the cartoons.
The other three new detainees are members of the suspect’s social circle.
The attack came as a trial is underway over the January 2015 massacre at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, who had published cartoons of the prophet that sparked anger across the Islamic world.
The magazine defiantly republished the cartoons as the trial approached last month, and later that month a young Pakistani man injured two people with a meat cleaver outside the magazine’s former offices.
In a post on Twitter, Charlie Hebdo expressed his “sense of horror and revolt” during Friday’s attack.
Identification documents found on the suspect showed he was an 18-year-old who was born in Moscow, but originally from the southern region of Russia, Chechnya.
The attacker shouted Allahu Akbar (“God is great”) as police confronted him, a cry often heard in jihadist attacks, a police source said.
French counterterrorism prosecutors said they were treating the attack as “murder linked to a terrorist organization”.
Police said they were investigating a message posted to Twitter from an account – since closed – which showed a photo of the teacher’s head.
It was not clear whether the post, which contained a threat against Macron – describing him as “the leader of the infidels” – had been posted by the attacker, they said.
The murder bore the hallmarks of an “Islamist terrorist attack,” Macron said as he toured the scene.
Visibly moved, the president said “the whole nation” was ready to stand up for teachers and “obscurantism would not win.”
The Elysée said that a “national tribute” would be organized in honor of Paty, without setting a date.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, expressed her condolences to the teacher’s family and to the French people.
“My thoughts are also with the teachers, in France and across Europe. Without them there are no citizens. Without them, there is no democracy, ”she wrote on Twitter in French.
At school, parents and teachers paid tribute to Paty.
“According to my son, he was super nice, super nice, super nice,” said a parent, Nordine Chaouadi.
” I saw it [the teacher] today he came to my class to see our teacher. It’s shocking that I won’t see him again, ”said Tiago, a sixth-grader.
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