A French high school history teacher who showed his students caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad was beheaded today, October 16, in the suburbs of Paris, authorities said. The suspected killer was shot and killed by police.
The gruesome murder of the teacher occurred outside of a high school in the town of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, northwest of Paris. The suspect, a man armed with a knife and an airsoft gun (a toy gun that shoots plastic pellets), was caught and killed in the nearby town of Eragny.
Police said that the suspect, whose identity has not been made public, resisted arrest and threatened officers before he was shot 10 times. France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor has opened an investigation on the circumstances of the murder.
President Emmanuel Macron, who arrived at the scene today, labeled the murder an “Islamist terrorist attack.”
“One of our compatriots was murdered today because he taught … the freedom of expression, the freedom to believe or not believe,” Macron said. He called for unity in the country, saying, “We must stand all together as citizens.”
The Associated Press (AP) reported the teacher received threats after allowing a debate about the cartoons in class about 10 days ago. Officials told the AP that one student’s parent filed a complaint against the teacher, but the suspected killer did not have a child at the school.
This incident comes amid the trial of suspected accomplices in the deadly terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo‘s Paris headquarters in 2015. On September 2, the French satirical paper reprinted its controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a special edition that also named the 11 victims of the 2015 attack.