A teacher was beheaded in Paris, France on Friday in broad daylight after reportedly showing cartoons depicting the Muslim Prophet Muhammed in a critical fashion in his classroom as part of a lesson on free expression and blasphemy.
The suspect shouted “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is Greatest,” after the beheading, witnesses said.
He claimed responsibility for the killing and posted a grisly photo of Paty’s severed head online immediately after the attack. “I have executed one of the dogs from hell who dared to put Muhammad down,” read a message on his phone, prosecutors said.
Police identified the suspect as 18-year-old Abdoullakh Aboutezidovitch A., who was of Chechen origin and lived in France as a refugee, the AP reported. The teen was not a student of the teacher, Samuel Paty, but may have heard about his lesson before the attack.
Parents: Teacher was not showing disrespect
Paty reportedly gave Muslim students an opportunity to leave the room before showing the controversial cartoons, but still received threats over the lesson, which was related to the deadly 2015 terror attacks on Charlie Hebdo, a French satire magazine that had published controversial cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Muhammed. Fourteen people accused of being accomplices in the attacks went on trial in France last month.
Some parents were upset about Paty’s teaching methods, and a complaint was filed against him last week. But at least one parent, Nordine Chaouadi, defended Paty’s actions, telling the Telegraph, “At no time did he seek to lack respect, that’s what my son told me.”
French authorities are investigating the killing as terrorism, and French President Emanuel Macron has denounced the attack as an “Islamist terrorist attack.”
Macron: “We are with” teachers in France
“One of our fellow citizens was assassinated because he taught, taught his students freedom of expression, to believe or not to believe. Our compatriot was the victim of a marked Islamist terrorist attack,” Macron said during a visit to the site.
“I want to say this evening to all the teachers in France that we are with them, that the whole nation will be there, by their side today and tomorrow, to protect them, defend them, allow them to do their job, which is the most beautiful there is: to make free citizens,” Macron added.
Nine people, including a minor and the parents of one of Paty’s students, have reportedly been arrested so far related to the beheading.
This killing is the second terror attack in a month related to the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. Last month, two people who worked near the magazine’s old headquarters were injured by a Pakistani -born man wielding a meat-cleaver who sought vengeance over the cartoons, which had recently been republished by the magazine.