Attacker shot dead after killing teacher
TERROR INVESTIGATION LAUNCHED Police say educator's throat was slit in front of school in Paris suburb
• A man armed with a knife on Friday killed a middle school history teacher by slitting his throat in front of his school in a suburb of Paris, police said, in an attack that was being treated as terrorism.
The attacker was shot dead by a police patrol a few streets away. The teacher had shown pupils in his class cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, which are considered by Muslims to be blasphemous, according to a police source.
France's anti-terror prosecutor said it was investigating the attack, which took place in Conflans Sainte-Honorine, a commuter suburb northwest of Paris.
President Emmanuel Macron arrived at the scene on Friday.
French broadcaster BFMTV reported that the suspected attacker was 18 years old and born in Moscow.
The incident carried echoes of the attack five years ago on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
It published caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad, unleashing an issue that is still casting a pall over French society.
Less than a month ago, a man originally from Pakistan used a meat cleaver to attack and wound two people who were on a cigarette break outside the offices where Charlie Hebdo was based at the time of the 2015 attack.
In Friday's attack, a police source said that witnesses had heard the attacker shout “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is Greatest.” A police spokesman said that information was being checked.
Another police source also said the victim had been decapitated in the attack, but this was not confirmed. The attack took place in the street in front of the middle school where the victim worked.
“This evening, it's the Republic which is under attack with the despicable assassination of one of its servants, a teacher,” French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer
IT'S THE REPUBLIC WHICH IS UNDER ATTACK.
wrote on Twitter. “Our unity and our resolve are the only responses faced with the monstrosity of Islamist terrorism.”
A Twitter thread posted on Oct. 9 contained allegations that a history teacher in Conflans Sainte-Honorine had shown pupils cartoons purporting to depict the Prophet Mohammad.
The thread contained a video of a man who said his daughter, a Muslim, was one of the pupils in the class, and that she was shocked and upset by the teacher's actions.
The man in the video urged Twitter users to complain to the authorities and get the teacher removed from his post. Reuters was unable to independently verify the authenticity of the video.
The attacker was targeting freedom of expression, Macron said on Friday.
“A citizen has been murdered today because he was a teacher and because he taught freedom of expression,” Macron said. Macron said the attack was Islamist terrorism.
“The whole country stands behind its teachers. Terrorists will not divide France, obscurantism will not win,” he said.
French Interior Minister Gerard Darmanin said he had set up a crisis centre to deal with Friday's attack.
France has over the past years seen a series of violent attacks by Islamist militants, including the 2015 Charlie Hebdo killings, and bombings and shootings in November 2015 at the Bataclan theatre and sites around Paris killed that 130 people.
The issue of the cartoons was revived last month when Charlie Hebdo decided to republish them to coincide with the start of the trial of accomplices in the 2015 attack.
al-Qaida, the militant Islamist group that claimed responsibility for those killings, threatened to attack Charlie Hebdo again after it republished the cartoons.
The magazine said last month it published to assert its right to freedom of expression, and to show it would not be cowed into silence by violent attacks.
That stance was backed by many prominent French politicians and public figures.
Reacting to Friday's attack outside the school, Charlie Hebdo wrote on its Twitter account: “Intolerance has crossed a new threshold and does not seem to give ground to anything in imposing its terror on our country.”
Macron unveiled plans for combating what he called “Islamist separatism” this month. In a long-awaited speech, Macron called Islam “a religion that is in crisis all over the world,” with problems that stem from a “very strong hardening” of positions among Muslims.
Police officers secure the area near the scene of a stabbing attack in the Paris suburb of Conflans St Honorine Friday.