PARIS | The elements of the investigation unveiled Saturday on the “Islamist terrorist attack” against a professor beheaded near Paris by a refugee highlight the vindictiveness to which he was designated on social networks for showing a caricature of Muhammad to his students.
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Evoking “the extreme gravity of the facts and their immense repercussions”, the anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-François Ricard delivered some details on Saturday afternoon on the attack which horrified France, while on the spot, dozens of students and parents succeeded each other to lay a white rose at the foot of the gates of the college of Bois d’Aulne in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, near Paris.
The magistrate specified that the assailant, shot by the police, was a Russian refugee of Chechen origin, born in 2002 and legally present on French soil.
Samuel Paty, a 47-year-old father, was on his way home when he was attacked by Abdoullakh Abouyezidovich A. who claimed responsibility for the murder on Twitter by making the link with Muhammad. The Russian Embassy in France has denied any connection with the assailant who had lived in France for 12 years.
Three weeks after an Islamist attack during which a Pakistani had wounded with a chopper two people who were in front of the former premises of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, and in the midst of a debate on the preservation of secularism in the face of communal assaults, the Friday’s assassination revolted the country.
A national tribute will be paid to Mr. Paty on Wednesday and rallies are scheduled for Sunday.
A total of ten people have been arrested and taken into custody since Friday evening, relatives of the assailant, but also the father of one of the teacher’s students, who had delivered him to the vengeance on social networks, and a very active Islamist activist, Abdelhakim Sefrioui, who had done the same.
Videos on networks
According to the elements revealed by the magistrate, the professor had organized with his students a debate, planned as part of civic education classes, during which he showed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. He then suggested to the students who wished not to look at certain drawings.
The father of a student, placed in police custody, was indignant at this course in several videos, making public on the internet the name of the professor and the address of the college, and going to meet the principal to ask for his dismissal.
After these publications, “the main one reported many threatening (telephone) calls received by the college,” said the magistrate.
According to him, Abdoullakh Abouyezidovich A. stationed himself in front of the college on Friday around midday and asked students to appoint him the teacher.
“This terrorist crime is the second committed while the hearings of the January 2015 trial started at the beginning of last September are taking place. This confirms the very high level of the Islamist terrorist threat ”, declared Mr. Ricard.
The trial is that of the accomplices of the attackers of the January 2015 attacks against Charlie Hebdo, who killed 12 people, again in retaliation after the publication of these same cartoons.
In total, the wave of unprecedented jihadist attacks that began in 2015 in France left 259 people dead.
Mr. Paty “was fully in his job,” he “liked a lot,” said Friday Martial, a 16-year-old high school student, rushed to his old college. “He really wanted to teach us things. From time to time, we had debates, we spoke ”.
“Our teachers will continue to awaken the critical spirit of the citizens of the Republic, to emancipate them from all totalitarianism and all obscurantism,” Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Twitter.
“I will be, and our country will be at your side to protect you, allow you to do your job which is the most essential job, pass on to our children the knowledge and values which are our common good”, assured the Minister of National Education Jean-Michel Blanquer in a video message to teachers, a particularly important category in the French socio-political landscape.
For 30 years, national education has been at the forefront of the demands of certain Muslim circles.
President Emmanuel Macron went to the scene on Friday evening, calling the assassination a “characterized Islamist terrorist attack”.
“They will not pass. Obscurantism will not win, ”hammered, moved, the Head of State, in a country where the signs of tensions caused by the Islamists are regular, triggering a response from the authorities to preserve the secular values of the Republic. A reply itself denounced by certain Muslim organizations as “Islamophobic”.
Abroad, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, paid tribute to the teacher, sending her “condolences to his family and to the French. My thoughts are also with the teachers, in France and everywhere in Europe. Without them there are no citizens. Without them, there is no democracy ”.
“We must protect freedom of expression”, reacted Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, while the Jordanian government “denounces this terrorist crime and all forms of violence and terrorism”.