France attack: Man shot by police after 'decapitation' in Paris suburbs

Cheryl Sanders
October 18, 2020

The father of a schoolgirl had sought 47-year-old teacher Samuel Paty's dismissal and launched an online call for "mobilization" against him after the lesson on freedom of expression, Jean-François Ricard said in a televised news conference.

Paty was decapitated outside his school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, northwest of the capital, and the killer was fatally wounded by police.

Citing French media, the BBC reports that the teacher began receiving death threats following a lesson on freedom of expression in which the caricatures were said to be shown.

Police detained four close relatives of the attacker soon after the murder, with five more detained overnight, including the father of a pupil at Paty's school and an acquaintance of the pupil's father known to the intelligence services.

Egypt's Grand Mufti Shawki Allam denounced the killing of a school teacher on Friday in Paris, after he had reportedly showed caricatures of Prophet Mohamed, describing it as a "terrorist act".

The teacher had received threats after opening a discussion "for a debate" about the caricatures about 10 days ago, a police official told The Associated Press.

The prosecutors say the suspect could have planned the attack after learning about those social media posts.

Islam forbids images of the prophet because it is believed it will lead to idolatry.

Investigators were seeking to establish whether the teenager had acted alone or had accomplices.

Witnesses said he was spotted at the school on Friday afternoon asking pupils where he could find Paty.

A photograph of Paty and a message confessing to his murder were found on the assailant's mobile phone.

The attacker was shot by police as they tried to arrest him and later died of his injuries.

He was shot nine times, said Ricard.

Last month, a young man from Pakistan was arrested after stabbing two people with a meat cleaver outside the former offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. He also went with his daughter to the police to file a complaint against Paty.

Prosecutors said they were treating the incident as "a murder linked to a terrorist organisation" and related to a "criminal association with terrorists".

Police added they were investigating a tweet from a deactivated account that allegedly showed a picture of the victim's body.

Officials and Muslim leaders throughout France expressed outrage at the slaying.

Macron was to join key ministers at a crisis group set up in the interior ministry, the president's office said.

His office said a national tribute would be paid to Mr Paty, for which the timing was as yet undecided.

Parents of pupils laid flowers at the school gate.

Some carried placards stating: "I am a teacher" and "I am Samuel" - echoing the "I am Charlie" cry that travelled around the world after the 2015 Charlie Hebdo killings.

"He didn't do this to create arguments or to disrespect", says Nordine Chaouadi, whose 13-year-old son enjoyed Paty's classes.

According to the source, the two detained parents had signalled their disagreement with the teacher's decision to show the cartoons.

Local centre-right lawmaker Antoine Savignat said, "If we can not talk about the Charlie Hebdo caricatures in school, we end up in denialism".

Other reports by iNewsToday