France’s Public Prosecutor Anti-Terrorism Unit said that it had opened an investigation following an attack that resulted in the death of a man in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, near Paris.
The public prosecutor announced that the attacker was fatally shot by French police, while the police confirmed that the man who was killed was a history professor who had recently showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in a lecture on freedom of expression.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Saturday, October 17, that Paris will act with the utmost resolve, while the authorities announced the arrest of nine people in connection with the incident, including two of the murderer’s brothers and his grandparents, for questioning. A judicial source reported that five others were also arrested, including the parents of a school student and friends of the perpetrator of the attack. According to the judicial source, the arrested parents expressed their opposition to the teacher’s decision to display the drawings.
French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer confirmed in a tweet on Friday, October 16, that the murder is an attack on France, while the French presidency announced that President Emmanuel Macron went on Friday evening to Conflans-Saint-Honorine, northwest of Paris.
The Anti-Terrorism Unit announced that it had opened an immediate investigation on charges of committing a “crime linked to a terrorist act” and forming a “terrorist criminal group”.
Meanwhile, the Russian embassy in Paris stated that it had requested information about the identity of the attacker after French media reported that he was an 18-year-old man of Chechen origin born in Moscow.
The attack coincides with the trial of alleged accomplices of the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attackers and comes a few weeks after another attack in which a man injured two people whom he thought work for the newspaper.
Three weeks earlier, a 25-year-old Pakistani carried out a stabbing attack in front of the old Charlie Hebdo headquarters, which resulted in the serious injury of two people. The perpetrator of that attack told investigators that he did so in response to Charlie Hebdo republishing cartoons offensive to Islam.
The newspaper had republished the cartoons on September 1, coinciding with the beginning of the trial of alleged accomplices of the perpetrators who had attacked the newspaper in January 2015, which resulted in the death of 12 people.
Thousands demonstrated in several Pakistani cities to protest the re-publication of the cartoons, and al-Qaeda also threatened the newspaper with an attack similar to that which was carried out in 2015.