High school teacher de­cap­i­tated in sub­ur­ban Paris

The Washington Post - - FREE FOR ALL - BY JAMES MCAU­LEY james.mcau­ley@wash­post.com

PARIS — A high school teacher in a Paris sub­urb was de­cap­i­tated Fri­day af­ter­noon, French au­thor­i­ties said, in an at­tack that oc­curred af­ter the teacher had al­legedly shown car­i­ca­tures of the prophet Muham­mad to his stu­dents.

The at­tack oc­curred af­ter 5 p.m. near a school in the Paris sub­urb of Con­flans-saint-honorine north­west of Paris, ac­cord­ing to French news re­ports. Po­lice shot the sus­pect in a nearby town, killing him, said French po­lice sources cited in news re­ports.

France’s na­tional anti-ter­ror pros­e­cu­tor im­me­di­ately opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion for “mur­der in con­nec­tion with a ter­ror­ist en­ter­prise” and “crim­i­nal ter­ror­ist as­so­ci­a­tion.”

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron later vis­ited the crime scene, and In­te­rior Min­is­ter

Ger­ard Dar­manin re­turned to Paris from an of­fi­cial visit to Morocco.

“They will not pass,” Macron said, speak­ing at the scene. “Ob­scu­ran­tism and the vi­o­lence that goes with it will not win. They won’t di­vide us.”

The vic­tim was iden­ti­fied as a high school his­tory and ge­og­ra­phy teacher. Par­ents in the area had re­cently com­plained that a lo­cal teacher had shown stu­dents car­i­ca­tures of the prophet Muham­mad as part of a les­son on free­dom of ex­pres­sion, France’s BFM tele­vi­sion re­ported.

As au­thor­i­ties worked to es­tab­lish a more com­plete pic­ture, the po­ten­tial mo­tive of seek­ing re­venge for the Muham­mad car­toons led in­ves­ti­ga­tors to quickly con­sider the case a ter­ror­ist at­tack, Le Monde re­ported.

“Tonight, it was the Repub­lic that was at­tacked with the de­spi­ca­ble as­sas­si­na­tion of one of its ser­vants, a pro­fes­sor,” said Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Jean-michel Blan­quer.

Fri­day’s at­tack comes amid the his­toric trial of 14 al­leged ac­com­plices in the Jan­uary 2015 at­tack on Charlie Hebdo, a satir­i­cal news­pa­per that had pub­lished car­toons that de­picted the like­ness of Muham­mad, which is strictly pro­hib­ited by the Mus­lim faith. The two at­tack­ers in the 2015 shoot­ing were recorded say­ing that they had avenged the prophet as they fled the scene.

Last month, Charlie Hebdo’s ed­i­tors com­mem­o­rated the be­gin­ning of the trial by pub­lish­ing new car­toons of Muham­mad.

Weeks later, two peo­ple were stabbed out­side the for­mer Paris of­fices of Charlie Hebdo in an as­sault that au­thor­i­ties later said had been de­signed to at­tack the news­pa­per’s jour­nal­ists a sec­ond time.

Against the back­drop of these at­tacks, Macron un­veiled plans for com­bat­ing what he called “Is­lamist sep­a­ratism” this month. In a long-awaited speech, he 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.

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