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Suspect Stalked French Faculty Earlier than Beheading Instructor, Officers Say

PARIS — The suspect within the beheading of a history teacher in a Paris suburb was an 18-year-old immigrant of Chechen descent who was angered by the classroom show of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, French officers stated on Saturday.

The suspect, recognized by the authorities as Abdoulakh A., stalked the realm outdoors the college on Friday afternoon earlier than following the trainer, whom he stabbed and decapitated with a knife, Jean-François Ricard, the highest antiterrorism prosecutor, stated at a information convention.

“The person was in entrance of the faculty within the afternoon and requested college students to point the long run sufferer to him,’’ Mr. Ricard stated, referring to the center faculty the place the trainer, Samuel Paty, had taught. The suspect was fatally shot by the police in a confrontation quickly after the killing, which befell in Eragny, a suburb close to the college.

Investigators discovered a message planning the assault on the suspect’s cellphone, written just a few hours earlier than, Mr. Ricard stated. Then, shortly earlier than he was killed by the police, the suspect uploaded {a photograph} of the sufferer to Twitter, he added.

The grotesque killing gave the impression to be the end result of a few weeks of rigidity on the faculty, Collège du Bois-d’Aulne, in a quiet, middle-class suburb north of Paris. Muslim dad and mom upset over the classroom show of two caricatures revealed by the satirical journal Charlie Hebdo had contacted faculty and police officers, however movies uploaded on social media by one father widened the dispute to an outdoor viewers.

Investigators had been nonetheless attempting to piece collectively how the suspect spent his days earlier than the assault, Mr. Ricard stated. However the suspect didn’t seem to have any direct ties to the college or to have been beforehand concerned within the dispute.

Born in Moscow, the suspect lived in France with the standing of a refugee, Mr. Ricard stated, including that he was not recognized to antiterrorism officers.

The brutal killing was the second violent episode inside weeks to be linked to the caricatures revealed by Charlie Hebdo, which had led to lethal assaults in Paris in 2015. Final month, because the trial of accomplices within the 2015 assault received underway, the journal republished the drawings — an act that was seen as a daring assertion within the title of freedom of expression by some however as reckless and pointless provocation by others.

Final month, a 25-year-old Pakistani immigrant attacked two people outdoors the previous workplaces of Charlie Hebdo, apparently angered after watching movies displaying protests in Pakistan towards the republication of the cartoons.

Past its brutality, Friday’s killing hit a far greater nerve in France as President Emmanuel Macron and different prime authorities officers rushed to the scene on Friday night.

Jean-Michel Blanquer, the minister of nationwide training, stated that in Friday’s killing, it was “the republic that was attacked.’’ France stated a ceremony could be organized to pay nationwide homage to the slain trainer.

The minister’s phrases mirrored the central function performed by France’s public colleges — hewing to a nationwide curriculum established by the central authorities — in instilling civic values and a nationwide id. However additionally they underscored the recurring tensions between France’s conventional republican values and people of newer arrivals, particularly these of Muslim religion who oppose the publication of the caricatures.

The tensions at Collège du Bois-d’Aulne emerged early this month because the trainer — who was 47 and, in response to dad and mom and college students, had taught on the faculty for under few years — broached the subject of freedom of expression.

As an example the subject, the trainer confirmed his college students — principally 13-year-olds — two caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that had appeared in Charlie Hebdo, Mr. Ricard stated. In keeping with an electronic mail despatched later to the dad and mom by the college principal, the trainer requested college students who is likely to be offended by the fabric to look away or to quickly depart the classroom. The trainer realized his clumsiness and apologized, in response to the e-mail, which was obtained by The New York Occasions.

Cécile Ribet-Retel, the president of PEEP de Conflans, the native chapter of a nationwide dad and mom’ affiliation, stated her group heard from about 20 dad and mom, who expressed their anger or their help for the trainer. Dad and mom met with faculty officers and each side gave the impression to be working towards an understanding, Ms. Ribet-Retel stated.

“However then the knowledge received on social media, was amplified and distorted,’’ Ms. Ribet-Retel stated. “And it turned inconceivable to handle.’’

One significantly vocal father or mother — the daddy of a 13-year-old woman who was upset by the caricatures — met with the principal and demanded that the trainer be fired, Mr. Ricard stated. The daddy uploaded vital and offended movies on social media on Oct. 7 and Oct. 12, figuring out the trainer and the college, he stated.

Laurent Brosse, the mayor of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, the Paris suburb the place the college is, stated native officers warned police intelligence that the scenario gave the impression to be spiraling uncontrolled due to the video.

“We did what appeared necessary to us at that second,’’ Mr. Brosse stated, including, “We all know that this query concerning the freedom of expression stirs up tensions in society.’’

However regardless of these warnings, “there was no motion,’’ Ms. Ribet-Retel stated.

The video was extensively shared on social networks by people denouncing anti-Muslim racism and even official accounts of mosques and of Muslim organizations.

“It was blown out of proportion within the Muslim group,’’ stated Siham Touazi, a councilor in an adjoining municipality, who obtained messages linking to the video in a number of WhatsApp teams.

The killing got here simply weeks after Mr. Macron unveiled a plan to fight what he described as the specter of “Islamist separatism” to France’s secularism. Mr. Macron centered partly on training, particularly on beating again what he described as threats to the secular values taught within the nation’s colleges and citing the instance of Muslim dad and mom who had been against letting their youngsters take swimming classes.

“The scenario has turn into so tense in our nation over the problems of secularism and Islam that it’s turn into inconceivable to have an inexpensive dialog,’’ stated Gérard Pommier, the nationwide president of PEEP, the dad and mom’ affiliation.

The slain trainer — described by Ms. Ribet-Retel and plenty of present and former college students as a dedicated and severe teacher — appeared to attempt to navigate the tensions in his class on freedom of expression. Whereas he confirmed two caricatures to his class, he recommended that those that is likely to be offended — implicitly Muslim college students — depart or look away. In France, the place it’s unlawful to ask folks their faith, the trainer’s proposal appeared to violate the nation’s secularism, stated Rodrigo Arenas, co-president of the F.C.P.E., one other dad and mom’ affiliation.

Aude Clabaut, a trainer at one other faculty within the space, stated that the slain trainer shouldn’t have requested college students to go away the classroom. However she stated that she was annoyed by the rising challenges to secularism in her personal classroom, with some college students refusing to take away their veils and Muslim dad and mom contesting secularism programs.

“I’m unhappy and I’m livid,” stated Ms. Clabaut, who joined a bunch of individuals on Saturday in entrance of the college the place the slain trainer labored.

A whole bunch of scholars and oldsters, in addition to residents of town, gathered to pay tribute to the trainer, at one pointing singing La Marseillaise, the nationwide anthem.

Some held indicators that learn “I’m a trainer,” in direct reference to the “I’m Charlie” help indicators that popped up by the 1000’s hours after the 2015 assault on the journal. A number of college students hugged one another, their eyes swollen with tears.

However tensions had been additionally current on Saturday afternoon, as some didn’t hesitate to immediately level to Islamism. A person holding an indication — “ Political Islam is a most cancers. We remove it or we die from it” — was briefly interrogated by the police and had his signal seized.

Fixed Méheut reported from Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. Antonella Francini contributed analysis from Paris.

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