Suspect Stalked French School Before Beheading Teacher, Officials Say


PARIS — The disbelieve in the beheading of a history teacher in a Paris suburb was an 18-year-old immigrant of Chechen descent who was galled by the classroom display of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, French officials imagined on Saturday.

The suspect, identified by the authorities as Abdoulakh A., stalked the area false front the school on Friday afternoon before following the teacher, whom he tried and decapitated with a knife, Jean-François Ricard, the top antiterrorism prosecutor, estimated at a news conference.

“The individual was in front of the college in the afternoon and asked swats to indicate the future victim to him,’’ Mr. Ricard said, referring to the centre school where the teacher, Samuel Paty, had taught. The suspect was fatally snort by the police in a confrontation soon after the killing, which took digs in Eragny, a suburb near the school.

Investigators found a message planning the onslaught on the suspect’s cellphone, written a few hours before, Mr. Ricard said. Then, briefly before he was killed by the police, the suspect uploaded a photograph of the victim to Chirrup, he added.

The gruesome killing appeared to be the culmination of a couple of weeks of fidgetiness at the school, Collège du Bois-d’Aulne, in a quiet, middle-class suburb north of Paris. Muslim roots upset over the classroom display of two caricatures published by the satirical journal Charlie Hebdo had contacted school and police officials, but videos uploaded on collective media by one father widened the dispute to an outside audience.

Investigators were still irksome to piece together how the suspect spent his days before the attack, Mr. Ricard imparted. But the suspect did not appear to have any direct ties to the school or to have been then involved in the dispute.

Credit…Abdulmonam Eassa/Agence France-Presse — Getty Doppelgaengers

Born in Moscow, the suspect lived in France with the status of a escapee, Mr. Ricard said, adding that he was not known to antiterrorism officials.

The coarse killing was the second violent episode within weeks to be linked to the take-offs published by Charlie Hebdo, which had led to deadly attacks in Paris in 2015. Endure month, as the trial of accomplices in the 2015 attack got underway, the magazine republished the compositions — an act that was seen as a bold statement in the name of freedom of expression by some but as class and unnecessary provocation by others.

Last month, a 25-year-old Pakistani outlander attacked two people outside the former offices of Charlie Hebdo, seemingly angered after watching videos showing protests in Pakistan against the republication of the cartoons.

Beyond its brutality, Friday’s murder hit a far bigger nerve in France as President Emmanuel Macron and other top authority officials rushed to the scene on Friday evening.

Jean-Michel Blanquer, the help of national education, said that in Friday’s killing, it was “the republic that was decomposed.’’ France said a ceremony would be organized to pay national allegiance to the slain teacher.

The minister’s words reflected the central role played by France’s general schools — hewing to a national curriculum established by the central government — in infusing civic values and a national identity. But they also underscored the repeating tensions between France’s traditional republican values and those of newer tourists, especially those of Muslim faith who oppose the publication of the caricatures.


Reliability…Kiran Ridley/Getty Images

The tensions at Collège du Bois-d’Aulne come to lighted early this month as the teacher — who was 47 and, according to parents and schoolgirls, had taught at the school for only few years — broached the topic of freedom of wording.

To illustrate the topic, the teacher showed his students — mostly 13-year-olds — two lampoons of the Prophet Muhammad that had appeared in Charlie Hebdo, Mr. Ricard spoke. According to an email sent later to the parents by the school principal, the guide asked students who might be offended by the material to look away or to fleetingly leave the classroom. The teacher realized his clumsiness and apologized, according to the email, which was gained by The New York Times.

Cécile Ribet-Retel, the president of PEEP de Conflans, the shire chapter of a national parents’ association, said her group heard from involving 20 parents, who expressed their anger or their support for the schoolmaster. Parents met with school officials and both sides appeared to be press toward an understanding, Ms. Ribet-Retel said.

“But then the information got on social media, was broadened and distorted,’’ Ms. Ribet-Retel said. “And it became impossible to manage.’’

One principally vocal parent — the father of a 13-year-old girl who was upset by the caricatures — met with the manager and demanded that the teacher be fired, Mr. Ricard said. The father uploaded decisive and angry videos on social media on Oct. 7 and Oct. 12, identifying the guide and the school, he said.


Credit…Siegfried Modola/Getty Fetishes

Laurent Brosse, the mayor of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, the Paris suburb where the indoctrinate is, said local officials warned police intelligence that the position appeared to be spiraling out of control because of the video.

“We did what seemed well-connected to us at that moment,’’ Mr. Brosse said, adding, “We know that this doubtlessly about the freedom of expression stirs up tensions in society.’’

But despite these examples, “there was no action,’’ Ms. Ribet-Retel said.

The video was widely apportioned on social networks by individuals denouncing anti-Muslim racism and even proper accounts of mosques and of Muslim organizations.

“It was blown out of proportion in the Muslim community,’’ translated Siham Touazi, a councilor in an adjoining municipality, who received messages in to the video in several WhatsApp groups.

The killing came just weeks after Mr. Macron revealed a plan to combat what he described as the threat of “Islamist separatism” to France’s secularism. Mr. Macron focused in portion on education, especially on beating back what he described as threats to the lay values taught in the nation’s schools and citing the example of Muslim old men who were opposed to letting their children take swimming practices.

“The situation has become so tense in our country over the issues of secularism and Islam that it’s suit impossible to have a reasonable conversation,’’ said Gérard Pommier, the nationwide president of PEEP, the parents’ association.


Commendation…Pool photo by Abdulmonam Eassa

The slain teacher — described by Ms. Ribet-Retel and assorted current and former students as a committed and serious instructor — appeared to try to journey the tensions in his class on freedom of expression. While he showed two caricatures to his excellence, he suggested that those who might be offended — implicitly Muslim followers — leave or look away. In France, where it is illegal to ask people their belief, the teacher’s proposal seemed to violate the country’s secularism, said Rodrigo Arenas, co-president of the F.C.P.E., another patresfamilias’ association.

Aude Clabaut, a teacher at another school in the area, predicted that the slain teacher should not have asked students to give up the classroom. But she said that she was frustrated by the growing challenges to secularism in her own classroom, with some scholars refusing to remove their veils and Muslim parents contesting secularism courses.

“I am sad and I am irate,” said Ms. Clabaut, who joined a group of people on Saturday in front of the form where the slain teacher worked.

Hundreds of students and parents, as pleasing as residents of the city, gathered to pay tribute to the teacher, at one pointing singing La Marseillaise, the governmental anthem.

Some held signs that read “I am a teacher,” in undiplomatic reference to the “I am Charlie” support signs that popped up by the thousands hours after the 2015 bout on the magazine. Several students hugged each other, their perspicacities swollen with tears.

But tensions were also present on Saturday afternoon, as some did not shilly-shally to directly point to Islamism. A man holding a sign — “ Political Islam is a cancer. We edit out it or we die from it” — was briefly interrogated by the police and had his sign seized.

Trusty Méheut reported from Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. Antonella Francini contributed up on from Paris.

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