A teacher has been killed after opening a debate over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, prompting backlash and official condemnation.

 

 

This morning, a history teacher who opened a discussion with students on caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad was decapitated on a French street North of Paris and was eventually shot dead by police.

Al Jazeera has confirmed that the French anti-terrorism prosecutor has commenced an investigation into the incident in Conflans Sainte-Honorine, a suburb 20 kilometres from the French capital.

A police official, in conversation with The Associated Press – said the teacher had received threats after opening a discussion “for a debate” about the caricatures about ten days ago. He had shown pupils in his class cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.

According to the police official, the attack took place in front of the school where the victim worked.

French anti-terror prosecutors are treating the incident as “a murder linked to a terrorist organisation” and related to a “criminal association with terrorists”.

The parent of a student had filed a complaint against the teacher, another police official said, adding the suspected killer did not have a child at the school. The suspect’s identity was not made public.

President Emmanuel Macron arrived at the scene on Friday evening.

Earlier in October, Macron drew collective ire from Muslims after he said that “Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world today, we are not just seeing this in our country,” he said. Enacting a law that looked to shift France away from religion, the law permits people to belong to any faith of their choosing, Macron said, but outward displays of religious affiliation would be banned in schools and the public service. Wearing the hijab is already banned in French schools and for public servants at their workplace.

 

The parent of a student had filed a complaint against the teacher, another police official said, adding the suspected killer did not have a child at the school. The suspect’s identity was not made public.

 

As Al Jazeera noted “France has over the past several years seen a series of violent attacks. Bombings and shootings in November 2015 at the Bataclan theatre and sites around Paris killed 130 people.

“Late last month, a man who emigrated to France from Pakistan used a meat cleaver to attack and wound two people outside the former offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

“That was the spot where armed men gunned down employees of the magazine five years ago in retaliation for the magazine’s publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

“The issue of the cartoons was revived last month when Charlie Hebdo decided to re-publish them to coincide with the start of the trial of accomplices in the 2015 attack.

“Al-Qaeda, the group that claimed responsibility for the 2015 attack, threatened to attack Charlie Hebdo again after it republished the cartoons.

“The magazine said last month it published to assert its right to freedom of expression, and to show it would not be cowed into silence by violent attacks. That stance was backed by many prominent French politicians and public figures.”

 

 

 

 

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