Suspect Stalked French College Earlier than Beheading Instructor, Officers Say

Suspect Stalked French College Earlier than Beheading Instructor, Officers Say

PARIS — The suspect within the beheading of a historical past trainer in a Paris suburb was an 18-year-old immigrant of Chechen descent who was angered by the classroom show of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, French officers mentioned on Saturday.

The suspect, recognized by the authorities as Abdoulakh A., stalked the world exterior the varsity on Friday afternoon earlier than following the trainer, whom he stabbed and decapitated with a knife, Jean-François Ricard, the highest antiterrorism prosecutor, mentioned at a information convention.

“The person was in entrance of the faculty within the afternoon and requested college students to point the long run sufferer to him,’’ Mr. Ricard mentioned, referring to the center faculty the place the trainer, Samuel Paty, had taught. The suspect was fatally shot by the police in a confrontation quickly after the killing, which happened in Eragny, a suburb close to the varsity.

Investigators discovered a message planning the assault on the suspect’s cellphone, written a couple of hours earlier than, Mr. Ricard mentioned. Then, shortly earlier than he was killed by the police, the suspect uploaded {a photograph} of the sufferer to Twitter, he added.

The ugly killing seemed to be the end result of a few weeks of rigidity on the faculty, Collège du Bois-d’Aulne, in a quiet, middle-class suburb north of Paris. Muslim mother and father upset over the classroom show of two caricatures revealed by the satirical journal Charlie Hebdo had contacted faculty and police officers, however movies uploaded on social media by one father widened the dispute to an outdoor viewers.

Investigators have been nonetheless making an attempt to piece collectively how the suspect spent his days earlier than the assault, Mr. Ricard mentioned. However the suspect didn’t seem to have any direct ties to the varsity or to have been beforehand concerned within the dispute.

Born in Moscow, the suspect lived in France with the standing of a refugee, Mr. Ricard mentioned, including that he was not identified to antiterrorism officers.

The brutal killing was the second violent episode inside weeks to be linked to the caricatures revealed by Charlie Hebdo, which had led to lethal assaults in Paris in 2015. Final month, because the trial of accomplices within the 2015 assault received underway, the journal republished the drawings — an act that was seen as a daring assertion within the identify of freedom of expression by some however as reckless and pointless provocation by others.

Final month, a 25-year-old Pakistani immigrant attacked two individuals exterior the previous places of work of Charlie Hebdo, apparently angered after watching movies exhibiting protests in Pakistan in opposition to the republication of the cartoons.

Past its brutality, Friday’s killing hit a far larger nerve in France as President Emmanuel Macron and different high authorities officers rushed to the scene on Friday night.

Jean-Michel Blanquer, the minister of nationwide training, mentioned that in Friday’s killing, it was “the republic that was attacked.’’ France mentioned a ceremony could be organized to pay nationwide homage to the slain trainer.

The minister’s phrases mirrored the central position performed by France’s public colleges — hewing to a nationwide curriculum established by the central authorities — in instilling civic values and a nationwide id. However additionally they underscored the recurring tensions between France’s conventional republican values and people of newer arrivals, particularly these of Muslim religion who oppose the publication of the caricatures.

The tensions at Collège du Bois-d’Aulne emerged early this month because the trainer — who was 47 and, based on mother and father and college students, had taught on the faculty for under few years — broached the subject of freedom of expression.

For example the subject, the trainer confirmed his college students — principally 13-year-olds — two caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that had appeared in Charlie Hebdo, Mr. Ricard mentioned. In accordance with an e mail despatched later to the mother and father by the varsity principal, the trainer requested college students who could be offended by the fabric to look away or to quickly go away the classroom. The trainer realized his clumsiness and apologized, based on the e-mail, which was obtained by The New York Occasions.

Cécile Ribet-Retel, the president of PEEP de Conflans, the native chapter of a nationwide mother and father’ affiliation, mentioned her group heard from about 20 mother and father, who expressed their anger or their assist for the trainer. Dad and mom met with faculty officers and each side seemed to be working towards an understanding, Ms. Ribet-Retel mentioned.

“However then the data received on social media, was amplified and distorted,’’ Ms. Ribet-Retel mentioned. “And it turned not possible to handle.’’

One significantly vocal father or mother — the daddy of a 13-year-old woman who was upset by the caricatures — met with the principal and demanded that the trainer be fired, Mr. Ricard mentioned. The daddy uploaded essential and offended movies on social media on Oct. 7 and Oct. 12, figuring out the trainer and the varsity, he mentioned.

Laurent Brosse, the mayor of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, the Paris suburb the place the varsity is, mentioned native officers warned police intelligence that the scenario seemed to be spiraling uncontrolled due to the video.

“We did what appeared necessary to us at that second,’’ Mr. Brosse mentioned, including, “We all know that this query concerning the freedom of expression stirs up tensions in society.’’

However regardless of these warnings, “there was no motion,’’ Ms. Ribet-Retel mentioned.

The video was broadly shared on social networks by people denouncing anti-Muslim racism and even official accounts of mosques and of Muslim organizations.

“It was blown out of proportion within the Muslim neighborhood,’’ mentioned Siham Touazi, a councilor in an adjoining municipality, who acquired messages linking to the video in a number of WhatsApp teams.

The killing got here simply weeks after Mr. Macron unveiled a plan to fight what he described as the specter of “Islamist separatism” to France’s secularism. Mr. Macron centered partially on training, particularly on beating again what he described as threats to the secular values taught within the nation’s colleges and citing the instance of Muslim mother and father who have been against letting their youngsters take swimming classes.

“The scenario has turn into so tense in our nation over the problems of secularism and Islam that it’s turn into not possible to have an affordable dialog,’’ mentioned Gérard Pommier, the nationwide president of PEEP, the mother and father’ affiliation.

The slain trainer — described by Ms. Ribet-Retel and plenty of present and former college students as a dedicated and severe teacher — appeared to attempt to navigate the tensions in his class on freedom of expression. Whereas he confirmed two caricatures to his class, he steered that those that could be offended — implicitly Muslim college students — go away or look away. In France, the place it’s unlawful to ask individuals their faith, the trainer’s proposal appeared to violate the nation’s secularism, mentioned Rodrigo Arenas, co-president of the F.C.P.E., one other mother and father’ affiliation.

Aude Clabaut, a trainer at one other faculty within the space, mentioned that the slain trainer shouldn’t have requested college students to depart the classroom. However she mentioned that she was annoyed by the rising challenges to secularism in her personal classroom, with some college students refusing to take away their veils and Muslim mother and father contesting secularism programs.

“I’m unhappy and I’m livid,” mentioned Ms. Clabaut, who joined a bunch of individuals on Saturday in entrance of the varsity the place the slain trainer labored.

Tons of of scholars and fogeys, in addition to residents of town, gathered to pay tribute to the trainer, at one pointing singing La Marseillaise, the nationwide anthem.

Some held indicators that learn “I’m a trainer,” in direct reference to the “I’m Charlie” assist indicators that popped up by the hundreds hours after the 2015 assault on the journal. A number of college students hugged one another, their eyes swollen with tears.

However tensions have been additionally current on Saturday afternoon, as some didn’t hesitate to instantly level to Islamism. A person holding an indication — “ Political Islam is a most cancers. We remove it or we die from it” — was briefly interrogated by the police and had his signal seized.

Fixed Méheut reported from Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. Antonella Francini contributed analysis from Paris.

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