Chechen fanatic beheads French school teacher over Prophet's caricature
19 October 2020
Terror struck France yet again with ISIS style beheading of a history teacher near his school in a Paris suburb, for what the fanatic Islamists say as revenge for showing students caricatures of Prophet Mohammad.
Police shot the suspected attacker dead after he refused to surrender his weapon.
Reports citing police sources said the suspect, wielding a knife was shot dead about 600 meters from where the teacher was killed after he failed to respond to orders to put down his arms, and acted in a threatening manner.
The attacker, later identified as a teenager called Abdoulakh A, lived with his family and was not in the suspect list of French intelligence agencies, police said. Abdoulakh hails from the Chechen community he propelled himself into their sights in horrific manner on Friday evening when he beheaded a school teacher in broad daylight.
French President Emmanuel Macron visited the school where the teacher worked in the town of Conflans-Saint-Honorine and met with staff after the slaying. He denounced the "Islamist terrorist attack" and urged the nation to stand united against extremism.
"One of our compatriots was murdered today because he taught ... the freedom of expression, the freedom to believe or not believe," Macron said. He said the attack shouldn’t divide France because that’s what the extremists want. "We must stand all together as citizens," he said.
The teacher had discussed caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad with his class, authorities said.
The French anti-terrorism prosecutor opened an investigation for murder with a suspected terrorist motive. Four people, one a minor, were detained hours later, the office of anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said without elaborating.
The incident comes amidst government move for a bill to address Islamist radicals who authorities claim are creating a parallel society outside the values of the French Republic.
France has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe with up to 5 million members, and Islam is the country’s No 2 religion.
France has seen occasional violence involving its Chechen community in recent months, in the Dijon region, the Mediterranean city of Nice, and the western town of Saint-Dizier, believed to be linked to local criminal activity.
It was not known what link, if any, the attacker might have with the teacher or whether he had accomplices, police said.
An Associated Press report quoting a police official said the parent of a student had filed a complaint against the teacher, adding that the suspected killer did not have a child at the school.
The teacher, however, had received threats after opening a discussion “for a debate” about the caricatures about 10 days ago, the report said.
An ID card was found at the scene but police were verifying the identity, the police official said. French media reported that the suspect was an 18-year-old Chechen, born in Moscow. That information could not be immediately confirmed.
It was the second terrorism-related incident since the opening of an ongoing trial for the January 2015 newsroom massacre at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which had published caricatures of the prophet of Islam.