Samuel Paty, 47, a French teacher was beheaded outside his school on Friday by 18-year-old Chechen gunman Aboulakh A in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine 25 miles north-west of Paris, amid chants of ‘Allah-hu-akbar’. The assailant, was shot by police as they tried to arrest him and later died of his injuries, police said.
French President, Emmanuel Macron has termed the incident as “an Islamist terror attack.”
The attack on the teacher came days after he showed a caricature on Prophet Muhammad in his classroom, in order to encourage freedom of speech amongst students.
Terming the incident as “an Islamist terror attack,” French President Emmanuel Macron said, “One of our compatriots was assassinated today because he taught pupils freedom of expression, the freedom to believe and not believe.”
As per reports, the teacher had asked Muslim students to leave the classroom if they wished to, before showing the caricature, but one student from the community allegedly stayed back and later revealed about the lesson to her parents, from whom entire community eventually came to know of it.
Muslim parents had taken offence at Mr Paty’s decision to show his class caricatures of the Prophet and branded him a ‘thug’ in a video shared online by a mosque just days before he was murdered.
In order to calm the situation, the school organised a meeting between the headteacher, the teacher and an official from the education authority. The teacher had gone to the local police station, with the head of the school, earlier this month after a legal complaint about his lesson.
The professor lived near the school and was used to walking through a wood to get home, but had decided to change his route to walk through a residential area because he felt threatened.
Jean-François Ricard, France’s anti-terrorist prosecutor, said the teacher had been “assassinated for teaching” and the attack was an assault on the principle of freedom of expression. “This is the second attack to take place during the Charlie Hebdo trial which shows the high level of terrorist threat we face,” Ricard said.
A crowd of mourners including fellow teachers, local politicians and officials and former pupils of the professor gathered outside the school on Saturday.