• AMPlus Issue7

History Teacher beheaded over cartoons of Mohammad

Muskaan Jindal

18th October 2020

Another gruesome attack plagues France as a history-geography teacher was beheaded in the street of a Paris suburb on Friday, which Macron called an ‘Islamist terror attack’. According to the Washington Post, the attack occurred near a school in Conflans-Saint-Honorine northwest of Paris.

Students light candles outside the school where the teacher worked (Source: Associated Press)

According to a report by AP, the attacker was shot down about 600 yards from the location the teacher was killed after he refused police orders. The assailant was suspected to be an 18-year old of Chechen origin and shouted: ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is greatest), a phrase often used in Jihadist attacks, as stated by officials. A week earlier, the teenager had come to school and asked the pupils to identify the teacher. No link between the attacker and the school has been found yet.

Jean-Francois Ricard, France's anti-terrorism state prosecutor, stated that a photograph of the victim's body along with a Twitter message claiming responsibility for the massacre was found on the assailant's phone. The Twitter account belonged to him. The post has since been removed. The message, according to Ricard, read, "In the name of Allah the most gracious, the most merciful, ... to (President Emmanuel) Macron, leader of the infidels, I have executed one of your hell-hounds who dared to belittle (Prophet) Mohammad."

"One of our compatriots was murdered today because he taught … the freedom of expression, the freedom to believe or not believe," Macron said.

Nine people were detained and put into custody, out of which four were the attacker's family members.

The victim, identified as Samuel Paty, 47, had been subjected to threats and complaints about opening up a 'debate'. A pupil's father took to Facebook, expressing his anger over the teacher showing cartoons of Mohammad. In the video, he said he wanted him removed. According to him, the teacher had warned the Muslim children in his class before unveiling the images. The following day, the father went to the school principal and put out another video, giving away the name of the school and the teacher. On October 12, another video on youtube featured the man's daughter getting interviewed by a person off-camera. He accused Macron of inciting hate against Muslims and threatened to take action if the teacher was not removed. The man off-camera was said to have a half-sister who joined the Islamic State in Syria in 2014.

This is the second terror attack amidst the trial for the Charlie Hebdo attack, where the satirical newspaper published caricatures of Mohammad and the assailants opened fire in the newsroom. The newspaper republished the cartoons to celebrate the opening of the trial.

Many students and parents paid their respects to the teacher and laid flowers on the school gate. One of the students said, "It was an enormous shock."

(Sources: Reuters, Washington Post, Associated Press)

Edited by: Ritish

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