France woke up on Saturday in shock in the aftermath of the “Islamist terrorist attack” in which an 18-year-old Chechen Russian beheaded a college professor for showing his students caricatures of Muhammad, in a country that wonders about religious separatism.
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Three weeks after an Islamist attack during which a Pakistani had wounded with choppers two people who were in front of the former premises of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, and in the midst of a debate on the preservation of secularism in the face of communalist assaults, the Friday’s assassination revolted the country.
“Islamist terror hits school,” Le Figaro headlined. “Dread” for the Parisian. The French press relegated the anti-covid curfew to the background and devoted itself largely to this attack, the investigators of which were tracing back on Saturday morning.
A total of nine people have been arrested and taken into police custody since Friday evening, relatives of the assailant, but also parents of students at Collège du Bois d´Aulne in the western suburbs of Paris.
According to Rodrigo Arenas, co-president of the parents’ association FCPE, the teacher had “invited Muslim students to leave the class” because he was about to show a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad. A report had been traced back to Mr. Arenas, alleging an “extremely angry father”.
Father of a pupil arrested
The father in custody is the one who was outraged in a video posted on social media that the teacher showed caricatures of “naked” Muhammad during a lesson in his daughter’s fourth grade.
The attack on the former Charlie Hebdo premises was launched after the newspaper republished cartoons of Muhammad during the trial of the accomplices of the assailants in January 2015. The latter, who had executed 12 people, claimed to act in retaliation after the attack. publication of these same cartoons.
The identity of the Conflans assailant has also been confirmed by investigators, according to the judicial source. He is an 18-year-old Chechen Russian born in Moscow.
Friday around 5:00 p.m. local time, he beheaded a history and geography professor near the college where he was teaching in a quiet area of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, before being killed by police called for help 200 meters away. of the.
He was known for a background in common law, but had a clean record, and was not known for his radicalization.
Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer was to receive representatives of staff and parents of students on Saturday morning with Prime Minister Jean Castex.
“It is the most fundamental values of the Republic that are affected: after freedom of the press, and Charlie Hebdo, the freedom to teach, in short, the Republic”, said Mr. Castex quoted by his entourage.
Mr. Blanquer was also to address teachers by video, a particularly important social category in the French socio-political landscape, and while for 30 years national education has been at the forefront of the demands of certain Muslim circles.
National counterterrorism prosecutor Jean-François Ricard is due to make a first point of the investigation to the press on Saturday afternoon.
President Emmanuel Macron visited the scene on Friday evening, describing the assassination as “a characterized Islamist terrorist attack.”
” They will not pass. Obscurantism will not win ”, hammered, moved, the Head of State, in a country where the signs of tensions caused by the Islamists are regular, triggering a response from the authorities to preserve the secular values of the Republic, retort itself denounced by certain Muslim organizations or political opponents as “Islamophobic”.
It is in this context that the government recently presented a bill against separatism, intended to “strengthen secularism and republican principles” and to “fight against the main separatism that is radical Islam”, according to the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin.
Outside France, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, sent her “condolences to her family and to the French. My thoughts are also with the teachers, in France and everywhere in Europe. Without them there are no citizens. Without them there is no democracy ”.