At­tacker shot dead af­ter killing teacher

TER­ROR IN­VES­TI­GA­TION LAUNCHED Po­lice say ed­u­ca­tor's throat was slit in front of school in Paris sub­urb

National Post (National Edition) - - WORLD - TANGI SALAüN AND GEERT DE CLERCQ

• 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


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.

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