Friday’s attack marked yet another attack on France, less than a month after a man brutally stabbed two people outside the satirist’s former offices Charlie Hebdo magazine. Once again, the government is treating the incident as a terrorist attack.
Several people are being held for questioning, including family members of the suspect.
Police shot and killed the suspected assailant, who reportedly shouted “Allahu akbar” – “God is great”, shortly after finding the beheaded body of the college history teacher near his school in the Paris suburb of Conflans-Saint-Honorine. . The suspect is said to have lived in Normandy, far from the site of the attack.
In the ugly Twitter post, the man said he killed his victim for showing Charlie Hebdo Mocking caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to his class. These same cartoons sparked a series of terrorist attacks in January 2015. A trial is underway in Paris.
Speaking on Friday evening, President Emmanuel Macron said the murder bore the hallmarks of an Islamist terrorist attack. He said those who tried to attack free speech would not win.
The inhabitants of Conflans-Saint-Honorine are in shock. Speaking to French media, some of the teacher’s students said he told them those who might be uncomfortable with the Charlie Hebdo cartoons were free to leave the classroom. The lesson was about freedom of speech, but several parents were said to be upset by this and reported it on social media.
Representatives of teachers’ unions say they are devastated. One of them, Jean-Rémi Girard, told French radio that it was shocking that a teacher could be killed just for doing their job.
For their part, Muslim leaders fear the attack will once again stigmatize French Muslims, who constitute the largest Islamic community in Western Europe.
Tareq Oubrou, rector of the main mosque in Bordeaux, said the people at BFMTV would associate his religion with such crimes – which he said would be terrible for ordinary Muslims.
Others, including the far-right Rassemblement National, criticize the government for being too lenient on extremism. Next month, French lawmakers begin reviewing controversial legislation to tackle radical Islam.