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Suspect Stalked French School Before Beheading Teacher, Officials Say

Suspect Stalked French School Before Beheading Teacher, Officials Say

PARIS — The suspect within the beheading of a history teacher 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 stated 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, stated at a information convention.

“The particular person was in entrance of the school within the afternoon and requested college students to point the longer term sufferer to him,’’ Mr. Ricard stated, referring to the center college the place the trainer, Samuel Paty, had taught. The suspect was fatally shot by the police in a confrontation quickly after the killing, which passed off in Eragny, a suburb close to the varsity.

Investigators discovered a message planning the assault on the suspect’s cellphone, written just a few hours earlier than, Mr. Ricard stated. 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 gave the impression to be the end result of a few weeks of rigidity on the college, Collège du Bois-d’Aulne, in a quiet, middle-class suburb north of Paris. Muslim dad and mom upset over the classroom show of two caricatures printed by the satirical journal Charlie Hebdo had contacted college 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 stated. But 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 stated, 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 printed by Charlie Hebdo, which had led to lethal assaults in Paris in 2015. Last 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 title of freedom of expression by some however as reckless and pointless provocation by others.

Last month, a 25-year-old Pakistani immigrant attacked two people 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.

Beyond 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, stated that in Friday’s killing, it was “the republic that was attacked.’’ France stated a ceremony can be organized to pay nationwide homage to the slain trainer.

The minister’s phrases mirrored the central function performed by France’s public colleges — hewing to a nationwide curriculum established by the central authorities — in instilling civic values and a nationwide id. But 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, in accordance with dad and mom and college students, had taught on the college for less than few years — broached the subject of freedom of expression.

To illustrate the subject, the trainer confirmed his college students — largely 13-year-olds — two caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that had appeared in Charlie Hebdo, Mr. Ricard stated. According to an e mail despatched later to the dad and mom by the varsity principal, the trainer requested college students who may be offended by the fabric to look away or to briefly depart the classroom. The trainer realized his clumsiness and apologized, in accordance with the e-mail, which was obtained by The New York Times.

Cécile Ribet-Retel, the president of PEEP de Conflans, the native chapter of a nationwide dad and mom’ affiliation, stated her group heard from about 20 dad and mom, who expressed their anger or their help for the trainer. Parents met with college officers and either side gave the impression to be working towards an understanding, Ms. Ribet-Retel stated.

“But then the data received on social media, was amplified and distorted,’’ Ms. Ribet-Retel stated. “And it turned inconceivable to handle.’’

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

Laurent Brosse, the mayor of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, the Paris suburb the place the varsity is, stated native officers warned police intelligence that the state of affairs gave the impression to be spiraling uncontrolled due to the video.

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

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

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 group,’’ stated 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 targeted 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 dad and mom who have been against letting their youngsters take swimming classes.

“The state of affairs has grow to be so tense in our nation over the problems of secularism and Islam that it’s grow to be inconceivable to have an inexpensive dialog,’’ stated Gérard Pommier, the nationwide president of PEEP, the dad and mom’ affiliation.

The slain trainer — described by Ms. Ribet-Retel and lots 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. While he confirmed two caricatures to his class, he recommended that those that may be offended — implicitly Muslim college students — depart or look away. In France, the place it’s unlawful to ask folks their faith, the trainer’s proposal appeared to violate the nation’s secularism, stated Rodrigo Arenas, co-president of the F.C.P.E., one other dad and mom’ affiliation.

Aude Clabaut, a trainer at one other college within the space, stated that the slain trainer mustn’t have requested college students to go away the classroom. But she stated 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 dad and mom contesting secularism programs.

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

Hundreds of scholars and oldsters, 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 am a teacher,” in direct reference to the “I am Charlie” help indicators that popped up by the 1000’s hours after the 2015 assault on the journal. Several college students hugged one another, their eyes swollen with tears.

But 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 cancer. We eliminate it or we die from it” — was briefly interrogated by the police and had his signal seized.

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

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