- A teacher who had shown his controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad was beheaded near a school in a Paris suburb on Friday afternoon.
- Samuel Paty, a 47-year-old history teacher, had shown his student caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad from the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo as part of a compulsory “moral and civil education” course.
- President Emmanuel Macron has called the incident an “Islamist terrorist attack.”
- The knife man was an 18-year-old Moscow-born man who, according to witnesses, shouted “Allahu Akbar” when he attacked Paty with a large kitchen knife and later posted pictures of the killing on social media.
- The attack comes just three weeks after two journalists were stabbed outside the former Charlie Hebdo offices.
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A teacher who had shown his class highly controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad was beheaded in a Paris suburb on Friday afternoon in what President Emmanuel Macron has called an “Islamist terrorist attack.”
French police have shot dead an 18-year-old man who allegedly beheaded the teacher – who has since been named Samuel Paty – with a large kitchen knife near a school in a Conflans-Sainte-Honorine suburb.
According to a police source, witnesses had heard the knife man shout “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest”) as he attacked the teacher, Reuters reported. He is also said to have shared photos of the attack on social media.
The 47-year-old teacher of history and geography had shown his students aged 12 to 14 caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad from the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which many Muslims found very offensive
The lesson was part of a compulsory “moral and civil education” course that all French primary and secondary schools have in their curriculum.
Visiting the site shortly after the attack, Macron said Paty was a “victim of an Islamist terrorist attack” killed because he “learned freedom of speech, to believe and not to believe,” according to Sky News
“This was a cowardly attack on our countryman. They are not winning … We will act,” the French president added, the BBC reported.
The 18-year-old unnamed knife man was born in Moscow and is said to have had Chechen roots, according to the Associated Press (AP). He fled after the attack, but local police confronted him in the nearby area of Éragny.
After police ordered him to surrender, it is said that the knife man had threatened them and made them shoot at him ten times. The suspect, who had a minor criminal record and was not known to the country’s intelligence service, died shortly after.
Nine people, including the suspect’s grandfather and 17-year-old brother, have been questioned by police on Saturday.
The history teacher’s lesson had triggered complaints from several parents. One family filed a legal complaint while another parent posted a YouTube video after the lesson with complaints about the teacher.
In response, another parent wrote a comment below the video Friday, defending the teacher.
“I am the parent of a student at this college. The teacher just showed caricatures of Charlie Hebdo as part of a history lesson on free speech. He asked the Muslim students to leave the classroom if they wanted it out of respect … He was a great “He tried to encourage the critical spirit of the students, always with respect and intelligence,” the parents wrote, according to the Guardian.
“Tonight I am sad for my daughter but also for teachers in France. Can we continue to teach without being afraid of being killed?” added the parent. The video has now been removed.
France has suffered a wave of Islamist violence since the 2015 terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo headquarters that left 12 people dead. A process over the Islamist attack is currently underway in Paris.
Three weeks ago, two journalists from a production company were stabbed and seriously injured outside the satirical magazine’s former offices.
Charlie Hebdo responded to Friday’s attack on his Twitter account, writing: “Intolerance has crossed a new threshold and does not appear to give rise to anything by imposing terror on our country.”
Note: This article was updated to include the victim’s name.