A middle school history teacher in France was knifed to death near the school where earlier this month he had shown his pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, considered blasphemous by Muslims, French officials said on Friday. The world must stand by France against religious extremism.
Start by one million online newspapers, websites, and Blogs publish the images, caricature or not, of the Prophet Mohammad in order to defeat the extremists. The Prophet never asserted that no one should not draw his figure, and the Koran has no mention of such.
The French Police shot the killer dead a few streets away from the scene of the attack late on Friday afternoon, in a residential suburb north-west of Paris.
TODAY WE ARE ALL FRENCHMEN AND FRENCHWOMEN
French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters at the scene of the attack:
One of our fellow citizens was assassinated today because he was teaching, he was teaching pupils about freedom of expression. Our compatriot was flagrantly attacked, was the victim of an Islamist terrorist attack. They won’t win… We will act. Firmly, And quickly. You can count on my determination.
The incident carried echoes of the attack five years ago on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. It published caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad, unleashing divisions that are still casting a pall over French society.
Many public figures interpreted the Friday’s killing targeting a teacher as an attack on the essence of French statehood. France embraces strong secular values, freedom of worship, and freedom of expression.
Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer wrote in a tweet:
This evening, it’s the Republic that’s under attack.
The victim of Friday’s attack sustained multiple knife wounds to the neck, according to a police representative. One law enforcement source said the killer beheaded the teacher in the attack.
STAND BY FRANCE AGAINST RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM
French broadcaster BFMTV reported that the suspected attacker was 18 years old and born in Moscow. Law enforcement officials did not name the attacker, or his victim.
A police source said that witnesses had heard the attacker shout “Allahu Akbar”, or “God is Greatest”.
The attack took place in the street in front of the middle school where the victim worked, in the suburb of Conflans Sainte-Honorine. The area is a middle class neighborhood with many residents who commute to work in Paris.
According to French media reports, the teacher had earlier this month shown pupils the cartoons as part of a civics lesson.
A Twitter thread posted on Oct. 9 contained a video of a man who said his daughter, a Muslim, was one of the pupils in the class. She became upset and shocked by the teacher’s actions.
The man in the video urged Twitter users to complain to the authorities. He also advocated for the teacher’s removal from his post.
France has over the past years seen a series of violent attacks by Islamist militants, including the 2015 Charlie Hebdo killings, and bombings and shootings in November 2015 at the Bataclan theatre and sites around Paris that killed 130 people.
Less than a month ago, a man originally from Pakistan used a meat cleaver to attack and wound two people who were on a cigarette break outside the offices where Charlie Hebdo was based at the time of the 2015 attack.
The issue of the cartoons had been revived last month when Charlie Hebdo decided to re-publish them to coincide with the start of the trial of accomplices in the 2015 attack.
Al-Qaeda, the militant Islamist group that claimed responsibility for those killings, threatened to attack Charlie Hebdo again after it republished the cartoons.
The magazine said last month it published to assert its right to freedom of expression. Many prominent French politicians and public figures backed their stance.
Reacting to Friday’s attack outside the school, Charlie Hebdo wrote on its Twitter account:
Intolerance has crossed a new threshold and does not seem to give ground to anything/ in imposing its terror on our country.
Reuters contribute to this article.