A teacher was beheaded in Paris on Friday after reportedly showing a cartoon of the Islamic prophet Mohammad to students in a college class. The attacker was shot dead after shouting “Allah Akbar” and advancing on police with a knife.
The victim, a history professor, was found beheaded near a college in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a suburb in northwestern Paris, according to French newspaper Le Parisien. He had reportedly given a lesson on freedom of expression, during which he displayed cartoons of Mohammad to students, French news site ACTU17 also reported.
The attacker later claimed responsibility in a Twitter post, ACTU17 said. The post reportedly included a photo of the victim and a message to French President Emmanuel Macron, saying he had executed the victim for belittling Mohammad.
Police confronted the attacker two miles away and he was still holding the knife he used to behead the victim. According to France24, witnesses overheard the attacker shouting “Allah Akbar” meaning “God is great.”
After refusing the drop the knife and aggressively approaching officials, they fired at the attacker, killing him.
Some reports called the attacker a parent of a student at the school, while other reports described him as an 18-year-old Chechen.
France’s national prosecutor’s office said the murder was being investigated as a terrorist incident. Macron visited the scene of the crime and spoke to the media, during which he said the victim was “a victim of Islamist terrorism.”
🔴 ALERTE INFO. Macron: le professeur décapité “a été la victime d’un attentat terroriste islamiste” https://t.co/016rHBtIjR pic.twitter.com/myANtfUdPT
— BFMTV (@BFMTV) October 16, 2020
A security perimeter was established around the scene. Video posted to social media showed a large law enforcement presence.
Conflans-Sainte-Honorine : Un professeur decapité à proximité de son collège, l’auteur des faits abattu à Eragny.
Le parquet antiterroriste se saisit des faits. #Conflans pic.twitter.com/rUwxGkFcDQ
— Remy Buisine (@RemyBuisine) October 16, 2020
France’s Minister of National Education, Youth and Sports, Jean-Michel Blanquer, tweeted to acknowledge the “assassination” of the professor, and called for unity to defeat “the monstrosity of Islamist terrorism.”
Ce soir, c’est la République qui est attaquée avec l’assassinat ignoble de l’un de ses serviteurs, un professeur.
Je pense ce soir à lui, à sa famille.
Notre unité et notre fermeté sont les seules réponses face à la monstruosité du terrorisme islamiste.
Nous ferons face .
— Jean-Michel Blanquer (@jmblanquer) October 16, 2020
SUD Education, a federation of education unions in France, released a statement condemning the attack.
“A teacher from a college in Yvelines was beheaded at the end of the afternoon, this Friday, October 16. According to a post claiming responsibility for the attack on social media, the assassination followed a teacher’s class on free speech, using the cartoons of Muhammad,” the statement said. “SUD Education expresses its horror at this assassination.”