PARIS – A student said he had warned his teacher about showing the prowess of Prophet Muhammad, which is considered blasphemous by Muslims, just days before French President Emmanuel Macron was called an “Islamist terrorist attack” in the French Reese’s alley.
Marshall Lucilla, 15, told NBC News he was “shocked” by the attack on Friday afternoon in the middle-class suburb of Conflain-Saint-Honorin, northwest of the French capital.
“I didn’t expect a beheading – it went too far,” he said, speaking with parental permission, saying his old-time history teacher had died shortly after the incident.
French anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-Franસois Ricard identified the victim as Samuel P.
Ricard told reporters Saturday that the attacker was an 18-year-old Chechen refugee. He said he had a knife and an Airsoft gun that fired plastic bullets. He was shot dead by police shortly after the incident.
Born in Moscow, the teenager was given a 10-year residency in France and was not known for his intelligence services, Ricard said.
A text claiming responsibility for the attack and a photo of the victim were found on the suspect’s phone, he added, adding that students at the suspect’s school were seen asking about the teacher, and the headmaster also received several threatening phone calls.
Ricard said Samuel sustained multiple injuries and an investigation into the murder with suspected terrorist intent was launched.
On Saturday morning, a wreath was laid outside College Boise de la Lenny, where Samuel taught. Others put up signs saying “I am a teacher”.
Student Luisella said she was in Samuel’s class earlier this month, when the civic teacher showed students the strategies published by Charlie Hebdo magazine in 2015, which are considered blasphemous by Muslims. Islam prohibits images of prophets, insisting they lead to idolatry.
“We told the teacher that it’s not good to show photos like this and that it causes a big problem,” said Lucilla. “It’s not a caricature that should be shown to the class, because there are Muslims in the class.”
A spokesman for France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office said on Saturday that nine people, including four members of the attacker’s family, had been taken into custody for questioning as part of the investigation.
French President Emanuel Macron Speaking from the scene late Friday evening, Samuel was “the victim of an Islamist terrorist attack.”
“One of our fellow citizens was killed today because he was teaching, he was teaching students about freedom of expression,” MacCrown told reporters.
“Our compatriot was clearly attacked,” he said. “They won’t win … we’ll act. Definitely and quickly. You can trust my determination.”
The attack comes as the Crown government continues to work on a bill to address Islamic radicals. France has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe with 5 million members, Islam being the second largest religion in the country.
That part of the population is made up of Chechens. In the 1990s, two wars in the North Caucasus, mainly in the Muslim Russian Republic, Chechnya, triggered a wave of emigration and many fled to Western Europe.
Muslim leaders in France have widely condemned Friday’s incident, which echoed an attack on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo five years ago. The outlet highlighted the strategy of Prophet Muhammad, scattered sections that are still dominating French society.
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Less than a month ago, a native of Pakistan used a meat cleaver to attack and injure two people sitting on a cigarette break outside Fisio, where Charlie Hebdo was located at the time of the 2015 attack.
The cartoon controversy resurfaced last month when Charlie Hebdo decided to re-publish them to coincide with the start of the trial of the Allies in the 2015 attack.
The militant Islamist group Al Qaeda, which claimed responsibility for the killings, threatened to attack Charlie Hebdo again after the cartoons were republished.
The magazine said last month that it republished the images to assert its right to freedom of expression and to show that it would not be silenced by covert violent attacks. This trend was supported by many prominent French politicians and public figures.
Nancy Ing and Matt Bradley reported from Paris. Adela Suleiman reported from London.
The report is contributed by Reuters and the Associated Press.