The man suspected of the gruesome beheading of a history teacher in an attack near Paris on October 16 was an 18-year-old born in Moscow, originating from Russia’s southern region of Chechnya. According to Associated Press, a police official said that the suspect, who was armed with a knife and an airsoft gun, was shot dead about 600 meters from where the male teacher was killed. France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office informed that the authorities have arrested nine suspects, including the grandparents, parents and 17-year-old brother of the attacker.
In recent month, France has seen occasional violence involving its Chechen community. Chechnya is a predominantly Muslim Russian republic in the North Caucasus. The 1990s wars had triggered a wave of emigration, with many Chechens heading for western Europe.
The history teacher, who had shown his students' cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed, was beheaded near Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. The officials had said that the police opened fire after the 18-year-old suspect failed to respond to orders to put down his arms, and acted in a threatening manner. Soon after the incident, French President Emmanuel Macron even arrived at the school and denounced what he called an ‘Islamist terrorist attack’.
While condemning the attack, Macron said, “Our compatriot was killed for teaching, for teaching children freedom of speech, freedom to believe, or not to believe. Our compatriot was the victim of a terrorist attack.”
France Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer also criticised the incident and called it an 'attack on France'. His tweet read, ”Tonight the [French] republic was attacked with the heinous murder of a teacher. Tonight as I think about him and his family, I feel that our unity and solidarity are the only answers to the cruelty of terrorism. We will fight back."
The recent incident is the second time in three weeks that terror struck France linked to caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad. Last month, a man had attacked and wounded two people outside the French weekly magazine's former office. According to local media, the local people allege that the attacker is a parent of one of the students who the victim taught.
Currently, a trial is also underway in Paris over a 2015 terrorist attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. This magazine was targeted after it published some controversial cartoons. Over dozens of people were killed in this terrorist massacre. After the trial for the 2015 attack began in Paris earlier on September 3, the magazine had reprinted the controversial cartoons, saying that this was the right time to do so.