Teacher knifed to death in France after showing cartoons of Prophet Mohammad

STABBED: Police officers secure the area near the scene of a stabbing attack in the Paris suburb of Conflans St. Honorine, France, Oct. 16. Charles Platiau/Reuters

PARIS (Reuters) – A middle school history teacher in France was knifed to death near the school where earlier this month he had shown his pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, considered blasphemous by Muslims, French officials said on Friday.

The attacker was shot dead by a police patrol a few streets away from the scene of the attack late on Friday afternoon, in a residential suburb north-west of Paris.

“One of our fellow citizens was assassinated today because he was teaching, he was teaching pupils about freedom of expression,” French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters at the scene of the attack.

“Our compatriot was flagrantly attacked, was the victim of an Islamist terrorist attack,” Macron said. “They won’t win... We will act. Firmly, And quickly. You can count on my determination.”

The incident carried echoes of the attack five years ago on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. It published caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, unleashing divisions that are still casting a pall over French society.

Friday’s killing, by targeting a teacher, was interpreted by many public figures as an attack on the essence of French statehood, with the values it espouses of secularism, freedom of worship, and freedom of expression.

“This evening, it’s the Republic that’s under attack,” Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer wrote in a tweet.

The victim of Friday’s attack sustained multiple knife wounds to the neck, according to a police representative. One law enforcement source said the teacher had been beheaded in the attack.

French broadcaster BFMTV reported that the suspected attacker was 18 years old and born in Moscow. Law enforcement officials did not name the attacker, or his victim.

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