A French teacher of history and geography was attacked and beheaded on Friday afternoon near the school where he taught at Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 50km northwest of Paris.
The 47-year-old teacher, identified as Samuel P, had shown cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in class several days ago. The teacher had received threats after opening a discussion “for a debate” about the caricatures about 10 days ago, the police official told The Associated Press.
The killer posted an image of the victim’s head with the caption “To Macron, the leader of the infidels. I executed one of your hell dogs who dared to insult Mohamed” on Twitter. The account was shut down and authorities asked people not to retransmit the photograph.
The suspect’s identity was not made public. French media reported that the suspect was an 18-year-old Chechen, born in Moscow. That information could not be immediately confirmed.
France has offered asylum to many Chechens since the Russian military waged war against Islamist separatists in Chechnya in the 1990s and early 2000s, and there are Chechen communities scattered around France.
France has seen occasional violence involving its Chechen community in recent months, in the Dijon region, the Mediterranean city of Nice, and the western town of Saint-Dizier, believed linked to local criminal activity.
The killing occurred in the midst of the trial of 14 people for aiding and abetting the slaying of 17 people in Paris in January 2015. That three-day spate of violence began at the office of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical newspaper that had printed cartoons of Muhammad, first published in Denmark by the newspaper Jyllandsposten.
It was these cartoons which the slain teacher showed in a class about freedom of expression. He reportedly asked Muslim students to identify themselves and leave the classroom to avoid shocking them. Some parents later complained to the school. The parent of a student had filed a complaint against the teacher, another police official said, adding that the suspected killer did not have a child at the school.
The victim was reportedly serious and well-liked by students. There are 750 pupils enrolled in the school, which was until now considered quiet.
“We didn’t see this coming,” Conflans resident Remi Tell said on CNews TV station. He had attended the middle school where the teacher taught, Bois D’Aulne, and described the town as peaceful.
It was the second terrorism-related incident since the opening of an ongoing trial on the newsroom massacre in Jan. 2015 at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo after the publication of caricatures of the prophet of Islam. At least 258 people have been killed by Islamic extremists in France since 2015.
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