French police have arrested nine people after a Chechen Muslim beheaded a history teacher near Paris on Friday for showing his students satirical caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in a lesson on free speech.
The assassination of Samuel Paty, 47, in a street near the Conflans-Sainte-Honorine school was immediately condemned by the government as an Islamist terrorist attack, and President Emmanuel Macron called for national unity.
“They won’t succeed. The obscurantism and the violence that goes with it will not win, ”Macron said outside of school hours after the murder.
On Saturday, Jean-François Ricard, the national counterterrorism prosecutor, said the attacker, who was shot dead shortly after the police attack, was an 18-year-old Chechen refugee born in Russia. He had obtained a 10-year residence permit in France in March of this year.
The man named Abdoullakh Abouyezidovich A did not have a criminal record and was not known to be linked to extremists although he was charged with property damage and public violence as a minor. Four of his relatives and five others were arrested following the attack.
After Mr. Paty’s free speech class earlier this month, the Muslim father of a student at the school complained and demanded that the teacher be fired. A threatening video naming Mr. Paty, giving the school’s address and calling for action was posted on social media.
Mr Ricard said the half-sister of the parent who complained – he was one of nine people arrested – joined Isis in 2014 in Syria and was still wanted by French authorities. He also said Mr. Paty’s killer asked people outside the school to identify the teacher on Friday afternoon and claimed responsibility for the murder in a message on his phone.
The message on a Twitter account that has since been deleted was addressed to Mr. Macron, “leader of the infidels”, and claimed the murder of “one of your hellhounds who dared to denigrate Mohammed”, according to the media. French.
The murder appears to be linked to the continued trial in Paris of 14 people accused of participating in a terrorist attack on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January 2015. They are accused of aiding two extremists who killed 12 people during their pressroom in revenge for the cartoons she posted on Mohammed – which Charlie Hebdo reposted last month to mark the start of the trial.
Mr Ricard said of the latest attack: “This confirms the very high level of terrorist threat we are facing.” A dagger, a knife with a 35 cm blade and a replica of an “airsoft” pistol were recovered in the street. Police said the attacker ran towards them firing his gun. He was hit by nine police bullets.
On Saturday, dozens of students and parents paid homage to Mr. Paty outside the school, carrying white roses and signs stating “I am a teacher” – an echo of the “Je suis Charlie” messages posted around the world after the 2015 terrorist attack on offices. by Charlie Hebdo.
After the Charlie trial began last month, two news agency workers were injured in a meat cleaver attack outside the magazine’s former offices. Zaher Hassan Mahmoud, a Pakistani, has been charged with attempted terrorist assassination.
In a speech earlier this month in Yvelines – the department where Mr. Paty was assassinated – Mr. Macron announced his intention to curb the spread of radical Islamism with tough new controls on religious associations, cultural and sporting activities and a ban on home schooling.
He said 172 people were being watched in the Yvelines for alleged violent radicalization, while 70 young people had left the Syria department as jihadists.