“A citizen was killed because he was a teacher and taught freedom of speech,” said President Emmanuel Macron as he visited the scene Friday night.
He described the killing of the teacher as a terrorist attack.
“Islamist terrorists will not win,” Macron said.
The attack happened around 5pm in the suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, near a school, on Friday. A spokesman for French police told Reuters the victim was a middle school teacher.
French police say the perpetrator shouted “allahu akbar”, ahead of the attack.
The man was a history and geography teacher and is said to have shown Muhammad caricatures to the students during a school lesson, French police say.
According to Le Figaro, the teacher must have felt threatened for several days before the murder. He is said to have reported this to the school management.
The man suspected of being behind the murder, according to police, was armed with a knife and softgun. He resisted arrest when he was caught a few hundred meters from the scene. The man was shot and wounded, and later died of his injuries.
Sources in the French prosecutor’s office inform the news agency AFP that it is an 18-year-old man with a Chechen background who was born in Moscow.
The man’s identity has not yet been officially confirmed.
Nine people arrested
Four people, among them one minor, were arrested after the murder. The four must be connected to the attacker.
On Saturday, AFP reports that another five people have been arrested during the night. They should not be related to the 18-year-old, but should be in his social circle.
Among those arrested are the parents of a student at the school where the teacher worked, says an unnamed source to the news agency.
According to the sources, the two parents have expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that the teacher showed the controversial caricatures.
Investigated as terrorism
Police say they are investigating the incident as a murder “linked to a terrorist organization”.
After the incident, a bomb squad also moved out to the scene, for fear that there might be a bomb vest there. The public was warned against approaching the place.
To the French radio channel Europe 1, mayor Thibault Humbert says it was “indescribably violent”.
– It is important to emphasize how quickly the police neutralized the perpetrator, says Humbert.
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin was to travel to Morocco, but has decided to return to Paris immediately, writes Le Monde.
Got up to remember the victim
Just before 8 pm on Friday night, members of the French National Assembly rose to commemorate the slain teacher and to condemn a “heinous attack”.
The teacher is said to have received threats for several days after he showed Muhammad caricatures that were discussed in the teaching.
Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer tweeted on Friday night about the attack.
– Tonight, the republic has experienced a despicable murder. I’m thinking of him and his family tonight. Our community and steadfastness is the only response to the atrocities of Islamist terror, Blanquer wrote on Twitter.
The incident is reminiscent of an attack that took place in the French capital at the end of September. An 18-year-old Pakistani man then attacked two men outside Charlie Hebdo’s former premises. A meat ax was used in the attack. The victims were seriously injured.
Le Figaro writes that this is the 33rd attack that has taken place in France since 2017.