Tribute planned for beheaded teacher in France; 11th person arrested

Elias Hubbard
October 19, 2020

"On behalf of the United States, I'd like to extend my really honest condolences to a friend of mine, President [Emmanuel] Macron of France, where they just yesterday had a vicious, vicious Islamic terrorist attack - beheading an innocent teacher near Paris", he said.

Last night, the French president said, "One of our compatriots was murdered today because he taught. the freedom of expression, the freedom to believe or not believe". France has offered asylum to many Chechens following a war between Russian forces and Islamist separatists in Chechnya in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Multiple French media outlets, including CNN affiliate BFMTV, reported that the teacher recently showed controversial caricatures depicting the Prophet Mohammed to his students as part of a lesson on freedom of speech.

The man, not named by officials, said he wanted the teacher removed.

The next day, the father went to see the principal of the school to complain, prosecutors said.

The father of one schoolgirl had launched an online call for "mobilization" against the teacher and had sought his dismissal from the school.

Witnesses said the suspect was spotted at the school on Friday asking pupils where he could find Mr Paty. A man off-camera interviewed the man's daughter.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the "Islamist terrorist attack" was targeting freedom of expression.

The assailant, whose identity has not been established, was shot by police as they tried to arrest him and later died of his injuries, police said.

An arrest warrant is out for the father's half-sister, who has joined Daesh in Syria, Richard added.

"A civilization does not kill an innocent person, barbarism does", Tareq Oubrou, imam of a mosque in Bordeaux, told French media, the BBC reports. Authorities say the attacker was later shot dead by police after he didn't respond to commands to disarm and acted threateningly. He had stalked Mr Paty, 47, on Friday, before carrying out the murder in broad daylight, soon after 5pm.

The attacker had been armed with a knife, an airgun and five canisters.

Some held placards reading "I am Samuel" that echoed the "I am Charlie" rallying cry after the 2015 attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. "Terrorists will not divide France, obscurantism will not win". At least four of those detained are family members of the attacker, who had been granted 10-year residency in France as a refugee in March. He is said to have a low criminal record and was not known to the country's intelligence service.

French anti-terrorism prosecutors said they were treating the assault as "a murder linked to a terrorist organisation".

Macron this month invoked the ire of Muslims when he described Islam as a religion "in crisis" as he unveiled a plan to defend France's secular values.

"The entire educational community is affected, and beyond it society as a whole", teachers union representative Bernard Deswarte said in Toulouse, where around 5,000 were estimated to have gathered.

His office said a national tribute would be paid to Mr Paty, for which the timing was as yet undecided.

Ministers who form France's defense council were to meet Sunday to discuss the Islamist threat.

A man lays a flower outside the school where a slain history teacher was working, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, northwest of Paris.

Friday's attack was the second of its kind since a trial started last month over the Charlie Hebdo killings.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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