French police fatally fire samuel paty a teacher on the street
The survivor was subsequently described as a martyr of free speech. France's anti-terrorism prosecutors probe the attack in a neighborhood north of Paris.
PARIS — On Friday afternoon, a knife-wielding man beheaded a teacher outside a school in a suburb north of Paris and was later shot dead by police, officials said, suddenly striking France with a national trauma that resurrected memories of previous terrorist attacks.
A police officer and parents with knowledge of the attack reported French media claims that the victim was a school history teacher who had displayed Prophet Muhammad's caricatures in a freedom of speech lesson that had offended Muslim families.
The teacher, still unnamed by Friday night, was quickly portrayed as a hero to free speech across the political spectrum. Representatives in France's parliament jumped to their feet to "honor the memory of the victim," as session chairman Hugues Renson declared. And President Emmanuel Macron rushed Friday night 's attack scene.
"It was a republic attack effort," Macron said.
Seizing the symbolic essence of an assault on a high school teacher and reprising anti-Islamic topics he has recently stressed, Mr. Macron said the teacher was "victim of a jihadist, Islamist assault."
"Because he taught, because he taught freedom of speech, freedom to believe and not to believe," the French president said in a short televised address.
At the intersection of two neighboring suburbs of Paris, Eragny and Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, France's anti-terrorism authorities promptly took over the case.
Much remained obscure Friday night with no public police narrative. But what was known's underlying themes conjured up France's recent experience of terrorist attacks: an attacker carefully targeting a victim believed to symbolize an offense against Islam.
Turmoil at school about the teacher's system of instruction — Mr. Macron discussed this in his remarks — evidently followed the shooting. "We saw the principal who defied a lot of pressure in these last weeks with incredible bravery," Mr. Macron said.
A Muslim parent at the teacher's college, College du Bois-d'Aulne, expresses outrage that an anonymous teacher asked Muslims in the 13-year-old class to quit because "he was going to reveal a picture that would shock them."
The parent asks: "Why this hatred? Why is such a history teacher behaving before 13-year-olds? The perpetrator has no relation to the academy.
French media reported being 18, of Russian descent. A police union representative told BFM that bystanders had seen the perpetrator slash the victim's throat.
National police were called, officials said, and after finding the decapitated victim, approached the nearby attacker near kindergarten. Brandishing a large knife, he assaulted police and was shot 10 times after refusing to surrender, they said. French reports, citing witnesses, said the attacker was heard screaming "Allahu akbar" at the knife attack.
A image of a body in the middle of a leafy residential street emerged on French TV soon afterwards. The attack comes three weeks after a knife-wielding gunman injured two people in Paris near the former Charlie Hebdo office site — the scene of a 2015 militant attack on the satirical newspaper for its Prophet Muhammad caricatures.
French politicians of both political colors moved to condemn the teacher's death.
The interior minister, police officer, cut off an official trip to Morocco and flew home to Paris. "A history teacher's assassination is an assault on freedom of speech and republic principles," National Assembly president Richard Ferrand said on Twitter.
"Attacking a teacher is attacking both French people and rights." "Fearful.
Massive emotion and indignation at this jihadist barbarism, "wrote on Twitter a leading Socialist parliamentarian, Boris Vallaud. The father details in the video what his daughter said had happened in training.
"He allowed himself to tell them this week, Muslims, Muslim students lift their hands," parents claim.
"Then they lifted their hands and he said, 'right, quit the class.' But my daughter declined to quit and asked him, 'Why? 'And he said he'd present a shot that'd shock them. And then he showed them a nude man, claiming it's the prophet. Another adult, 41, whose child attended the class, gave a more complex interpretation of what happened.
She called the teacher "a very nice guy, in words, gestures." Ms. Mendes said the teacher recommended that Muslim students who did not want to see the cartoon temporarily leave the classroom and instructed those who persisted not to tell their Muslim peers about the cartoon to avoid insulting their religion.
"He wanted to do it politely, he wouldn't hurt anybody," she said.
But in a second class where the instructor gave the lesson, a stunned student declined to leave the room, asking her father what happened.
He was the father who later protested in the online video. The next day, the teacher apologised to his students, and the principal sent an email to parents to try to explain the situation.
The teacher's advice to leave the classroom was insulting. "Without trying to annoy anybody, it turned out he somehow insulted the student by proposing this chance," reads the principal's email.
Ms. Mendes said what happened "was terrible."
"He just gave a free speech lesson," she said.
"To do his work, a teacher was murdered," Sophie Venetitay, a teachers' union official, told BFM.