OTN: Terror inquiry opened in France after teacher is attacked, beheaded

What Happened?

A 47-year-old history and geography professor at the College du Bois d’Aulne, Samuel Paty, was stabbed multiple times and beheaded, resulting in his death on Friday, Oct. 28. 

Paty was walking home from work in the suburbs of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, northwest of central Paris. The alleged attacker was 18 year old Abdoullakh Abouyezidovitch, a Russian refugee of Chechen origin. 

While waiting outside the school, Abouyezidovitch had asked students to help identify his target, according to CNN. He followed Paty, who was walking to his home close by, and stabbed Paty in the head multiple times before beheading him 

The BBC reports that Abouyezidovitch then posted images of the victim to Twitter along with derogatory comments to French President Emmanuel Macron and French “infidels.”

Abouyezidovitch was not known to intelligence services but had a record of misdemeanors, according to CNN.

Abouyezidovitch lived in the Normandy town of Évreux, an hour drive away from Paris, BBC reports, and had no connection to the teacher or the school.

Later that same day, Abouyedovitch was gunned down by police in Éragny, the same area that Paty was murdered. After brandishing a knife and firing an airgun in warning, Abouyedovitch was shot nine times and killed.

In Context

Charlie Hebdo, a weekly french publication with a focus on controversial yet satirical material, published a cartoon depicting the prophet Mohamad. In the Muslim faith, depicting the prophet is considered disrespectful.

In January of 2015, the publication office was gunned down by Islamic terrorists Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, according to CNN.

The attacks left 12 people dead as the two men were gunned down separately by police on later dates. 

In September of 2020, trials began for the 14 individuals who were suspected to be involved with providing the terrorists logistical support.

Paty was teaching a course on freedom of speech and expression, which is under the national curriculum, and was basing the lesson around the Charlie Hebdo attack and caricatures.

Paty allowed Muslim students to leave the room if they did not want to see the picture, according to NPR.

This still upset many parents and one father took to Facebook, claiming that the teacher showed a picture of a naked man and claimed him the be the “Muslim prophet” and called for his removal, according to The Guardian

The Latest

On Friday, Oct. 16, President Emmanuel Macron visited the area near the school. The Guardian quotes Macron who, later that day, gave a speech and states “This is our battle and it is existential. [Terrorists] will not succeed … [Terrorists] will not divide us.”

Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer tweeted, “Tonight, it is the Republic that is under attack with the vile assassination of one of its servants, a professor… Our unity and steadfastness are the only answers to the monstrosity of Islamist terrorism.”

Nine people have been taken under custody, including the suspect’s parents, grandfather, and 17-year-old brother, according to NPR. 

Among those nine is the father of one of Paty’s students, who posted on Facebook his disapproval.

On Wednesday, Oct. 21, Paty will be honored with a national tribute.

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