French President Emmanuel Macron has condemned what he called an “Islamist terrorist attack” against a history teacher beheaded in a Paris suburb on Friday, calling on the nation to be united against extremism.
The teacher discussed with his class caricatures of the Prophet Islam Muhammad, according to authorities. The suspected perpetrator was shot dead by police after being beheaded on Friday.
The French prosecutor for terrorism has launched an investigation into the murder on suspicion of terrorism, the prosecutor’s office said.
Macron visited the school where the teacher worked in the town of Conflan-Saint-Honorine, and met with staff after the murder. An Associated Press reporter saw three ambulances arrive at the scene, as well as heavily armed police surrounding the area and police vans parked in the surrounding leafy streets.
“One of our compatriots was killed today because he taught … freedom of expression, freedom to believe or not to believe,” Macron said.
He said the attack should not divide France because extremists want it. “We must all stand together as citizens,” he said.
The horrific murder of a teacher took place in the town of Conflans-Saint-Honorine, while the suspect was killed by police near Eranya.
A police officer said the suspect, armed with a knife and an airsoft gun, fired from plastic pellets, was shot about 600 meters from the scene of the murder of a male teacher after he did not respond to an order to lay down his arms and acted in a threatening manner.
The teacher received the threats after opening a discussion “for debate” over the cartoons about 10 days ago, a police spokesman told The Associated Press. The student’s father filed a complaint against the teacher, another police officer said, adding that the suspected killer did not have a child at school.
The identity of the suspect was not disclosed. French media report that the suspect is an 18-year-old Chechen born in Moscow. This information could not be confirmed immediately.
Two officials could not be named because they did not have the authority to discuss the ongoing investigations.
France has offered asylum to many Chechens as the Russian military waged war against Islamist separatists in Chechnya in the 1990s and early 2000s, and Chechen communities were scattered throughout France.
In recent months, France has witnessed violence against its Chechen community in the Dijon region, the Mediterranean city of Nice and the western city of Saint-Dizier, which is believed to be linked to local crime.
The attack came as Macron insisted on passing a new law against what he called internal “separatism,” including Islamic radicals accused of educating vulnerable people through homeschooling, extremist preaching and other activities.
France has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe, with up to 5 million members, and Islam is the No. 2 religion in the country.
“We haven’t seen it happen,” Conflans resident Remy Tell told CNews. He described the city as peaceful.
This was the second terrorism-related incident since the opening of the ongoing trial.in January 2015 in the satirical newspaper “Charlie Hebdo” after the publication of cartoons of the Prophet of Islam.
At the beginning of the trial, the newspaper republished caricatures of the prophet to emphasize the right to freedom of speech. Exactly three weeks ago, a young man from Pakistan was arrestedwho received non-life-threatening injuries near the former offices of the newspaper. An 18-year-old man told police he was upset by the publication of the cartoons.
The incident occurred when Macron’s government was working on a bill aimed at Islamist radicals who, according to the authorities, are creating a parallel society outside the values of the French Republic.