Thousands in France to rally after beheading of teacher

Clay Curtis
October 18, 2020

He was shot by police as they tried to arrest him.

"There must be a unity in the adult world" over "pride of the values of the Republic", he added, "Each child must understand they are lucky to go to school in France and to live in democracy".

At a news conference on Saturday, a prosecutor said that the suspect posted a message with a photo of the victim's body on Twitter shortly after the attack.

Paty, who was 47, had discussed caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad with his class, leading to threats, police officials said.

According to police sources, the knifeman yelled "Allahu Akbar" ("God is Greatest ") as he attacked the teacher, and fled after the attack but was later found nearby area of Éragny.

The assailant, who was reportedly an 18-year-old Chechen, attacked the teacher just outside of the school.

Five others, including a parent of a pupil who disagreed with the teacher's move to show cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammad in class, were also questioned over their role in the attack.

Condemning the "Islamic terrorist attack" that took the life of a teacher in Paris northwest suburbs, French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday evening called on the French to stand together and pledged quick and firm action by the government to combat terrorism.

The man off-camera was known to intelligence services, anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said on Saturday, though he did not say in what capacity.

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His office said a national tribute would be paid to Mr Paty, for which the timing was as yet undecided.

The killing was described by French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday as a "terrorist attack".

The scene has been cordoned off and a bomb disposal unit dispatched because of the suspected presence of an explosives vest, the police source said. The teacher filed a complaint of defamation in response.

Virginie, 15, said Paty showed the cartoons every year as part of a discussion about freedom following the Charlie Hebdo attack.

In a tweet, Charlie Hebdo expressed its "sense of horror and revolt" at Friday's attack.

Ricard told reporters that the Moscow-born suspect, who had been granted a 10-year residency in France as a refugee in March, was armed with a knife and an airsoft gun, which fires plastic pellets. After the images were shown to the students, some parents complained to the school.

And last month, charges were brought against a 25-year old Pakistani man after he wounded two people with a meat cleaver to avenge the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed by Charlie Hebdo, which purportedly prompted the 2015 killings.

Hollande, who saw France rocked by its deadliest terrorist attacks in 2015, stressed that "more than ever, we must be united in the face of barbarism and obscurantism".

A parent of one of Paty's students told France's AFP news agency that, according to his son, the teacher had told Muslim students to leave the classroom ahead of the lesson and that he "didn't want to hurt their feelings".

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