According to FL24.net, a French-language site, the French president Emmanuel Macron called the beheading an “Islamist terrorist attack.” The suspect was 18 years old and a Chechen. Police shot him dead after he cut off the teacher’s head, the site reports. Paty had shown students cartoons of Muhammad published in Charlie Hebdo as part of a lesson on freedom of expression. In 2015, attackers upset by the cartoons shot 12 people to death in and near Charlie Hebdo magazine offices.
Here’s what you need to know:
Paty Taught History & Geography
The video above captures the moment police shot the assailant. You can hear police shouting in French and then gunshots.
According to FL24.net, Paty was 47 and taught history and geography. CNN reported that Paty was a teacher “at a secondary school in the region of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine.” He showed the cartoons as part of a “moral and civil education” course to children aged 12 to 14, The Guardian reported.
Macron said that Paty was murdered “because he was teaching students the freedom of expression, the freedom to believe and not to believe. Our compatriot was cowardly attacked, was the victim of a characterized Islamist terrorist attack.”
The president continued that France must make “our children, wherever they come from, whether they believe or not believe, whatever their religion, into free citizens.”
The French language site Valeurs reported that Paty had been threatened with death and was aware of those threats before the beheading. That site named the suspect as Abdullakh A. A.
Paty Discussed the Cartoons in His Class
According to the AP, Paty drew the ire of some when he “discussed caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad with his class.”
The AP reported that the suspect was killed only a few yards from where he slew the teacher. The Moscow-born suspect was armed with a knife and an airsoft gun, according to Associated Press, which reported that the teacher brought up the cartoons “for a debate,” which led a parent of a student to file a complaint against him. The suspect was not named.
The suspect used a kitchen knife, The Guardian reported. Four people related to the attacker are under arrest, Daily Mail reports.
The Suspect, Who Had a ‘Petty Criminal Record,’ Shared Photos of the Beheading on Social Media
The suspect wasn’t known to France’s intelligence services but had a petty criminal record, The Guardian reported. According to the British news site, he shared gruesome photos of the attack on social media. Daily Mail reports that about 30,000 Chechens ended up refugees in France after battling with Russia. The site also reported that the suspect shared a photo of the victim’s decapitated head on Twitter along with calling the French president “the leader of the Infidels” who “dared to belittle Mohammed.” Valeurs reported that it was a video that contained the saying, “I executed one of your hellhounds who dared to belittle Muhammad.” The Twitter page was suspended; the site says it was @Tchetchene_270.
The body was discovered outside the teacher’s school, according to Guardian, which added that a parent, who was upset about the teacher’s lesson, posted a video condemning it to YouTube before the slaying. Daily Mail reports that the teacher showed the class “a Charlie Hebdo caricature of the Prophet crouching with a star drawn on his buttocks and the inscription ‘A star is born.'” According to Reuters, the video from the parent called the teacher a “thug” and was circulated in a mosque.
Another parent defended the teacher after his death, writing under that video, according to Guardian:
I am a parent of a student at this college. The teacher just showed caricatures from Charlie Hebdo as part of a history lesson on freedom of expression. He asked the Muslim students to leave the classroom if they wished, out of respect … He was a great teacher. He tried to encourage the critical spirit of his students, always with respect and intelligence. This evening, I am sad, for my daughter, but also for teachers in France. Can we continue to teach without being afraid of being killed?