President Emmanuel Macron argued the country’s fight against Islamic terrorism was ‘existential’ after the teacher was killed after showing his students caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in a French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.
A police official said the attack suspect was shot by police about 600 meters from where the teacher was killed.
Caroline Fourest, a prominent French feminist journalist, former Charlie Hebdo columnist, told BBC Radio 4 Today program: “I was very, very shocked. Not that this murder was a surprise – we have now lived for almost eight years under the constant threat of a terrorist attack.
“We are particularly shocked because this attack targets a teacher. In the history of the French Republic, teachers symbolize a very special figure. The one who gives you the hope of unity and fraternity.
“Sometimes we feel that this battle against religious fanaticism is endless but the only secret hope we have is that the teachers, with their patience and pedagogy, can block and spread the hatred and fanaticism at the heart of the next generation doing they understand satirical culture, Charlie Hebdoand freedom of expression. But yesterday some of that hope was beheaded.
She argued that those who “dare” to defend secularism and freedom of expression in the country are under great pressure.
Ms Fourest added: “We cannot win a war because it is an asymmetrical war, between reason on one side and madness on the other. You can be patient and specific. You can explain over and over and over again. “
His comments come after two reporters from a film production company were stabbed with a meat cleaver outside the former offices of Charlie Hebdo three weeks ago.
18-year-old Pakistani man arrested for attack told police he was upset Charlie Hebdo had republished the caricatures of the Prophet of Islam.
Fourteen people suspected of being involved in the 2015 terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, which took place after the newspaper published cartoons of the Prophet of Islam are currently on trial in Paris – with the trial scheduled to continue until November.
At the French National Assembly, the equivalent of parliament, deputies rose to pay tribute to the teacher killed on Friday.
Authorities said the teacher discussed the caricatures of the prophet of Islam Muhammad with his class.
The 47-year-old teacher, who taught history and geography at the Conflans-Sainte-Honorine school, north-west of Paris, now bears the name of Samuel Paty.
French police said the suspect was an 18-year-old Chechen. Chechnya is a predominantly Muslim Russian republic in the North Caucasus.
France’s counterterrorism prosecution said authorities investigating the man’s murder also arrested nine suspects, including the attacker’s grandparents, parents and 17-year-old brother.
Police said the suspect was armed with a knife and an airsoft gun – which shoots plastic pellets – and police opened fire after failing to respond to orders to give up and take action threateningly.
The teacher had received threats after he opened a discussion “for a debate” on the cartoons about 10 days ago, a police official told The Associated Press. A student’s parent had filed a complaint against the teacher, another police official said.
Charlie Hebdo tweeted: “Charlie Hebdo expresses his sense of horror and revolt after a teacher in the line of duty was murdered by a religious fanatic. We express our deepest support to his family, loved ones and all teachers.
“Intolerance has just crossed a new threshold and seems to stop at nothing to impose its terror on our country. Only the determination of political power and the solidarity of all will overcome this fascist ideology. This dirty act mourns our democracy but must make us more combative than ever to defend our freedom.
Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Saturday that France would react with the greatest firmness following the beheading of the professor.
“Through one of its defenders, it is the Republic which has been struck to the heart by Islamist terrorism”, tweeted Mr. Castex.
“In solidarity with its teachers, the State will react with the greatest firmness so that the Republic and its citizens live, free! We will never give up. Never. “
Additional reports by agencies