Friday, October 23, 2020
Home France News Decapitated teacher, police shoot down suspected killer

Decapitated teacher, police shoot down suspected killer

0
16


PARIS (AP) – A history professor who opened a discussion with students about the cartoons of the prophet of Islam Muhammad was beheaded on a French street on Friday and police shot dead the suspected murderer, authorities said.

The French anti-terrorism prosecutor has opened an investigation for murder with an alleged terrorist motive, the prosecution said.

The horrific murder of the teacher in a college took place in the town of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine when the suspect was killed by police near Eragny. The towns are located in the Val d’Oise region to the north-west of Paris.

President Emmanuel Macron was visiting the school.

Heavily armed police cordoned off the area around the school, and police vans and emergency vehicles lined the adjacent leafy streets, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene.

The identity of the suspect has not been made public. French media reported that the suspect was an 18-year-old Chechen, born in Moscow. This information could not be confirmed immediately.

France has offered asylum to many Chechens since the Russian military waged war against Islamist separatists in Chechnya in the 1990s and early 2000s, and Chechen communities are scattered throughout France.

France has seen occasional violence involving its Chechen community in recent months, in the Dijon region, in the Mediterranean city of Nice and in the city of Saint-Dizier, in the west, which is said to be linked to local criminal activities.

The attack came as Macron pushes for a new law against what he calls domestic ‘separatism’, including by Islamic radicals accused of indoctrinating vulnerable people through homeschools, extremist preaching and other activities.

France has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe with up to 5 million members, and Islam is the country’s second largest religion.

A police official said the suspect, armed with a knife and an airsoft gun – which shoots plastic pellets – was shot dead about 600 meters (yards) from where the teacher was killed after failing to respond to orders to give up, and acted threateningly.

The teacher had received threats after opening a “for debate” discussion of the cartoons about 10 days ago, the police official told The Associated Press. A student’s parent had lodged a complaint against the teacher, another police official said, adding that the alleged killer did not have children in school.

The two officials could not be named because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigations.

“We didn’t see it coming,” Conflans resident Remi Tell told CNews television. He had attended the college where the teacher taught, Bois D’Aulne, and described the town as peaceful.

It was the second terrorism-related incident since the opening of an ongoing trial over the January 2015 newsroom massacre at satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo after the publication of cartoons of the Prophet of Islam.

At the start of the trial, the newspaper republished cartoons of the prophet to emphasize the right to free speech. Exactly three weeks ago, a young Pakistani man was arrested after stabbing two people outside the newspaper’s former offices with non-fatal injuries. The 18-year-old told police he was shocked by the publication of the cartoons.

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer tweeted that it was France itself that was attacked on Friday.

“Our unity and steadfastness is the only answer to the monstrosity of Islamist terrorism,” he tweeted.

The attack came as Macron pushes for a new law against what he calls domestic ‘separatism’, including by Islamic radicals accused of indoctrinating vulnerable people through homeschools, extremist preaching and other activities.

___

Nicolas Vaux-Montagny in Lyon and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.



LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here