The professor had recently shown satirical caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to his high school class during a discussion on freedom of expression at a school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, north-west of the capital, according to police sources cited by the French media.
Police said they shot the suspected assailant, who still carried his gun, on the nearby street. He was allegedly an 18-year-old man of Chechen origin and shouted “Allahu akbar!” (God is great) before being killed.
President Emmanuel Macron, who pledged to crack down on Islamist extremism and “separatism” in French suburbs, visited the scene of the attack on Friday evening and called for national unity against terrorism Islamist.
“They won’t succeed. Obscurantism and the violence that goes with it will not win, ”he said. “They won’t divide us. This is what they want and we must stand firm together.
Jean-Michel Blanquer, Minister of Education, condemned what he called the “shameful” murder of a teacher. “It was the republic that was attacked,” he said. “Our unity and steadfastness are the only answers to the monstrosity of Islamist terrorism. We will resist it. French politicians on the left and right have condemned the “barbarism” of the murder.
Friday’s murder at around 5 p.m. appears to be linked to the ongoing trial in Paris of 14 people accused of participating in a terrorist attack on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January 2015.
They are accused of aiding two extremists who killed 12 people when they stormed the newsroom in revenge for the cartoons she posted about Mohammed. It was the start of a dark year for terrorism in France in which 149 people died in shootings and suicide bombings.
After the trial began last month, two news agency workers were injured in a meat cleaver attack outside the former Charlie Hebdo offices. Zaher Hassan Mahmoud, a Pakistani, has been charged with attempted terrorist assassination.
The far-right anti-immigrant Rassemblement National immediately condemned the latest attack and said force should be used to crush Islamists.
“A teacher beheaded for showing the #CharlieHebdo cartoons,” said party leader Marine Le Pen said on twitter. “We have reached this unbearable level of barbarism. Islamism brings us war: we must expel it from our country by force.
In a speech earlier this month in Yvelines – the department where Conflans-Sainte-Honorine is located – Mr Macron announced his intention to curb the spread of radical Islamism with new strict controls on religious associations , cultural and sporting activities and a ban on home schooling.
He said 32 terrorist attacks had been foiled by the security services since he began his presidency three years ago. Mr. Macron also noted that in Yvelines alone, 172 people were being monitored for suspected violent radicalization, while 70 young people had left the Syria department as jihadists.
The government of Mr. Macron is finalizing a bill aimed at reimposing French secular republican values in neighborhoods heavily populated by Arab and African Muslim immigrants considered vulnerable to the influence of Islamists.