PARIS.- France was still in shock over the murder of Samuel Paty, the professor of History and Geography beheaded yesterday near a college in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, in the suburbs of Paris. His murderer was an 18-year-old Russian refugee of Chechen origin, with no Islamist background, who used his Twitter account to claim that attack aimed at avenging Muhammad. Nine people were arrested and interrogated by the French counter-terrorism services.
In 24 hours, the investigation advanced by giant steps, after the murderer, Abadoullakh Abouyezidvitch A., was killed by police officers who saw him running towards them with a weapon.
Among the nine provisional arrests is the father of a student of the victim and another individual, known for his Islamist militancy. Both had complained “with virulence”, through videos and personally to the school authorities, after the teacher had presented the students with several cartoons of Muhammad during a class on freedom of expression a few days before, “within the framework of its publication by the satirical weekly ‘Charlie Hebdo’,” said the national antiterrorist prosecutor, Jean-François Ricard in a press conference.
The half-sister of the young student’s father “joined the Islamic State in Syria in 2014 and is the subject of an international search warrant by the anti-terrorist justice system” in France, Ricard added.
In a first operation by the forces of order carried out at the terrorist’s home, in the city of Evreux, 80 kilometers from the attack site, the police arrested four other people last night: the murderer’s parents, his grandfather and his brother less.
Abadoullakh Abouyezidvitch A. lived with his family in that suburb and “had refugee status, with a ten-year residence permit, which he had received six months ago,” said a source close to the case. In his opinion, the young man would have reacted to the campaign against the teacher launched on social networks. Outraged, he apparently spoke to some members of his family and friends. The police are now trying to find out if these people decided not to do anything to dissuade him or if they did not understand the seriousness of his intentions.
In any case, the message of claim of Abadoullakh Abouyezidvitch, next to the photo of the beheaded professor, was posted to an account that belonged to him. The first analysis of his cell phone “allowed us to find the text of that claim, as well as the photo of the victim,” said the prosecutor.
According to witnesses, the murderer had appeared in the vicinity of the school several hours before, in order to obtain information about his future victim. He then waited for him about 300 meters from the establishment and killed him with a knife, beheaded him and escaped on foot in the direction of a neighboring commune, where a few minutes later he was hit by members of a special police brigade.
Refusing to surrender and after firing on the forces of order, Abouyezidvitch was killed with “nine shots”, according to the prosecutor. The French saw some images of that operation, filmed by a neighbor from his window. A firearm and a dagger-type knife were found next to his body. A second bloody knife, with a 35-centimeter blade, was discovered about 30 meters from the victim.
The heinous crime caused an enormous commotion throughout the country and particularly in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, where the victim, Samuel Paty, 47, a teacher for several years in the same establishment, was known and appreciated by all. Dozens of students, accompanied by their parents and residents of the peaceful city gathered to lay bouquets of flowers at the entrance of the school.
The French government announced a national tribute in honor of Samuel Paty next week. A special program will be organized after the 15-day vacation that began today to remind students “how lucky they are to be children in France. That is, to be able to live in a democracy”, declared the Minister of Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer. The official repeated over and over again during the day that Samuel Paty had “every reason and right” to show the cartoons of Muhammad in class.
“What happened has roots. Those roots are hatred. I hate the Republic. (.) Consequently, against the school that is the backbone of the Republic,” he added.
A senior French official in turn judged that “a stage has been overcome in our country. An unleashing of hatred through social networks and the irresponsibility of certain individuals led to this horror“. 70% of the French agreed that it is necessary for the authorities to provide the country with precise rules to prevent the circulation of racial and gender hatred and all extremisms on social networks.
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