PARIS – A student said he warned his teacher to show cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, considered blasphemous by Muslims, days before he was beheaded on a Parisian street in French President Emmanuel Macron, dubbed the “Islamist terrorist attack”.
Marcial Luziela, 15, told NBC News he was “shocked” by Friday’s attack in the middle-class suburb of Conflans-Saint-Honorine, northwest of the French capital.
“I didn’t expect beheading – it went too far,” he said, speaking with his parents’ permission, shortly after the incident that led to the death of his 47-year-old history teacher.
French counter-terrorism prosecutor Jean-François Ricard identified the victim as Samuel P.
Rikar told reporters on Saturday that the attacker was an 1
The Moscow-born teenager received a 10-year residence in France and was not known to 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 said, adding that the suspect had been seen at the school questioning students about the teacher, and the principal had received several threatening phone calls.
Ricard said Samuel had suffered multiple injuries and that a murder investigation had been launched on suspicion of terrorism.
On Saturday morning, floral services were held in front of the College of Boa d’Olne, where Samuel taught. Others held signs reading “I am a teacher.”
Student Luisela said she was in Samuel’s class earlier this month when a civics teacher showed students cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo magazine in 2015 that are considered blasphemous by Muslims. Islam forbids images of the Prophet, claiming that they lead to idolatry.
“We told the teacher that it was not good to show such pictures and that this would create a huge problem,” Luciela said. “This is not a caricature that you have to show to the class because there are Muslims in the class.”
Nine people were detained for questioning as part of the investigation, including four family members of the attackers, a spokesman for the French anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office said.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Samuel was “the victim of an Islamist terrorist attack”, speaking at the scene late Friday.
“One of our fellow citizens was killed today because he was teaching, he was teaching students freedom of expression,” Macron told reporters.
“Our compatriot was attacked rudely,” he said. “They will not win … We will act firmly and quickly. You can count on my determination.”
The attack came as Macron’s government continued to work on a bill to appeal to Islamic radicals. France has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe with up to 5 million members, Islam is the second largest religion in the country.
Part of this population consists of Chechens. In the 1990s, two wars in Chechnya, a predominantly Muslim Russian republic in the North Caucasus, sparked a wave of emigration and many fled to Western Europe.
Muslim leaders in France have widely condemned Friday’s incident, which reflected the response to the attack five years ago in the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The newspaper published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, stirring up divisions that are still being thrown at French society.
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Less than a month ago, a Pakistani man used a meat cleaver to attack and injure two people who were on a cigarette break in front of the offices where Charlie Hebdo was based during the 2015 attack. .
The controversy over the cartoons resumed last month when Charlie Hebdo decided to republish them to coincide with the start of the 2015 accomplice trial.
Al Qaeda, the militant Islamist group that claimed responsibility for the killings, has threatened to attack Charlie Hebdo again after republishing the cartoons.
The magazine said last month that it was republishing the images to assert its right to freedom of expression and to show that it would not be silenced by violent attacks. This position was supported by many prominent French politicians and members of the public.
Nancy Ing and Matt Bradley report from Paris. Adela Suliman reports from London.
Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to the report.