French Prime Minister Jean Castex on October 17 has pledged to stand in solidarity with teachers and respond in “most decisive way” to the gruesome beheading of a history teacher near Paris. A school teacher, who had shown his students a cartoon of Prophet Mohammed, was decapitated in the Conflans-Sainte-Honorine commune north of Paris on October 16 afternoon. A suspect was reportedly killed by the French law enforcement officers and the entire incident is currently being investigated by the counter-terrorism department of the prosecutor's office.
In a statement posted on Twitter, French PM said that the Republic has been “struck in the heart by Islamist terrorism”. Apart from reacting in the “most decisive way”, Castex reiterated that “we will never give up, never”. In a meeting with representatives of the teachers, Castex assured that they would “ continue to awaken the critical spirit of the citizens of the Republic, to emancipate them from all totalitarianism and all obscurantisms. And we will be there, with them.”
The man suspected of the beheading of the history teacher was an 18-year-old born in Moscow, originating from Russia’s southern region of Chechnya. As per the Associated Press report, a French police official informed that the suspect was armed with a knife, airsoft gun and was shot dead nearly 600 meters from the spot 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 months, 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.
Since terror struck the European nation for the second time in the span of just three weeks, French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the entire incident as an "Islamist terrorist attack”. Macron not only visited the school where the teacher reportedly showed the caricatures of the Prophet, but also met with the staff after the killing. The French President called the teacher a “patriot” and said that he was murdered because he taught “freedom of expression.”
“One of our compatriots was murdered today because he taught … the freedom of expression, the freedom to believe or not believe,” Emmanuel Macron as quoted by AP.