The Attorney General of the National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office (PNAT), Jean-François Ricard, said on Saturday that the beheading of a university professor was the tragedy of the loss of the very freedom of expression that Samuel Paty was trying to teach.
“It is at the same time a teacher who was assassinated but it is also the freedom of thought, of expression, which was violated”, declared Ricard during a press conference during which he declared that an anti-terrorist investigation had been opened with charges of “assassination in connection with a terrorist enterprise” and “terrorist criminal association”.
The assassination of the professor of history and geography in the town of Conflans-Saint-Honorine on Friday upset the persistent terrorist threats in France and at the same time produced a surge of support for the tragedy.
The attack occurred just after 5:30 p.m. (1500GMT) in the Paris suburbs which is in the Yvelines department north of Paris. Conflans-Saint-Honorine has 35,000 inhabitants and is recognized as a peaceful community.
Paty, was a 47-year-old father who taught at Collège Bois-d’Aulne in Conflans-Saint-Honorine. The deceased suspect was an 18-year-old man from Chechnya, Russia. He threatened the officers with a knife before fleeing to Eragny-sur-Oise, where he was shot dead by the police.
Nine people are taken into custody, including the teenager’s grandfather, his parents, his 17-year-old brother and his friends.
Ricard detailed the events that led to the fateful meeting. It can be attributed to a moral and civic education class by Paty given on October 5 to fourth-graders in which he showed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to teach free speech.
Islam forbids images of the prophet because it is believed that it will lead to idolatry.
The controversial cartoon has aroused the ire of parents, with Paty receiving threats, according to reports. Two fathers met the principal of the quorum three days later. One of them posted a video online, revealing Paty’s name, calling for his dismissal and filing a complaint against Paty at the police station for “distributing pornographic images”.
Paty filed a lawsuit on October 12 for public defamation.
Police were summoned to the school just after 5 p.m. Friday after calls about a man hanging out.
The national police were then called after the discovery of a body rue du Buisson Moineau in the city, according to franceinfo.
The suspect, a resident of Evreaux, a town an hour west of Conflans-Saint-Honorine, obtained refugee status in France and received a residence permit in March. He was not known to the police and had no criminal record, prosecutors said.
A photo of a decapitated head was posted shortly after the attack on his Twitter account, which has since been deleted.
A visibly moved president, Emmanuel Macron, addressed the nation at the scene on Friday and described the attack as “a blatant Islamist attack.” He was joined by the Minister of the Interior Gérard Darmanin and the Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer
“I want to say this evening to all the teachers in France that we are with them, that the whole nation will be at their side,” he declared. “Obscurantism and the violence that goes with it will not win. “
Blanquer commented on the need to preserve freedom – so essential to the French way of life. “I call for the unity of the adult world, to defend without fear and without reproach freedom, equality, fraternity and therefore secularism,” he declared.