Teacher beheaded in Paris terror attack
Macron visits Paris school following murder of tutor who showed cartoons of Mohammed to children
A suspected Islamist terrorist beheaded a teacher who had shown his pupils controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a Paris suburb yesterday. The assailant, armed with a knife and an air gun, reportedly shouted “Allahu Akbar” as he carried out the attack. He was shot dead by police after refusing to drop his weapons. The teacher received death threats after a lesson on freedom of expression, in which he showed pupils the cartoons, a police source said.
A HISTORY teacher who showed his pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in class was beheaded near his school in a Paris suburb yesterday by a suspected Islamist t errorist who shouted “Allahu akbar”, police said.
Alerted by residents, police confronted and shot dead a man armed with a kitchen knife and an air gun who refused to drop his weapons and surrender, and threatened them.
Minutes later, officers found the body of the male teacher.
A bomb disposal unit was called in to check if the assailant was wearing a suicide vest or belt. Witnesses told police they heard the assailant shouting “God is the greatest” in Arabic.
The teacher had received death threats after giving a class on freedom of expression, during which he showed pupils the controversial cartoons, a police source said.
The presumed killer, a Moscow-born ethnic Chechen, was not on France’s terror watch list but was known to police for petty crime. Charlie Hebdo expressed “horror and revulsion that a teacher doing his job was murdered by a religious fanatic”. A family filed a legal complaint against the teacher last week after he showed the cartoons in class.
The gruesome killing in broad daylight in the street outside the school where the teacher worked in ConflansSainte-honorine, north-west Paris, was witnessed by passers-by who raised the alarm. French media named the teacher as Samuel P.
Sophie Vénétitay, deputy head of the SNES-FSU teachers’ union, said: “He was murdered because he was doing his
‘One of our fellow citizens was murdered because he was teaching pupils freedom of expression’
job, namely teaching critical thought.” She said the victim was a history and geography teacher in charge of “moral and civic education”, adding: “In that capacity, he gave a lesson on the freedom of expression with the Mohammed cartoons.”
Thibault Humbert, mayor of the nearby suburb of Éragny-sur-oise, said: “This was an exceptionally violent and horrifying attack. The police must be commended for intervening with such speed.”
Police arrived at the murder scene within minutes and came across the suspect who was fleeing towards Éragny-sur Oise, about two miles away, before they discovered the body.
“The body of the decapitated man was found around 5.30pm,” a source close to the investigation said. “The presumed attacker was waving his gun and shouting threats at officers before he was shot dead.”
Police sealed off the area and told residents to stay indoors while they invest i gated whether other potential attackers or accomplices were still at large. “There are still questions about whether the killer was radicalised or whether there might have been another motive, but the investigation will clarify this and the working hypothesis is terrorism,” the source said.
Pre s i dent Emmanuel Macron and several government ministers held an e mergency meeting at t he interior ministry. In emotional scenes, MPS in France’s National Assembly all stood up to “salute the memory” of the slain teacher and denounced what they called “an abominable attack”.
Mr Macron visited the school last night and, visibly moved, said: “One of our fellow citizens was murdered today because he was teaching pupils freedom of expression.” The teacher was the victim of an “Islamist attack”, he added.
He said the values of France and the Enlightenment were under attack by extremists.
“They will not pass. We will form a block,” he vowed.
In a speech earlier this month in Yvelines, the department where ConflansSainte-honorine is located, Mr Macron outlined plans to curb the spread of radical Islamism by restricting the activities of religious, cultural and sporting groups, and banning home schooling.
The killing came at a highly sensitive time in France after two people were seriously injured in a knife attack last month outside the former offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.
A Pakistani man who entered France under a false identity confessed to stabbing two journalists who work for a video production company at Charlie Hebdo’s former offices.
He told investigators he had been angered by the magazine’s decision to republish controversial cartoons of the Prophet to coincide with the ongoing trial of 14 alleged accomplices of two Islamists who massacred 12 people at Charlie Hebdo’s offices five years ago.
The attacker said he had not known that the weekly had moved to secret new premises.
Emmanuel Macron, the French president, speaks outside the school in Conflans-sainteHonorine, northwest Paris, where a teacher was murdered. Left, people near an entrance area at the scene of the crime, while police officers secure the area