Claim: Paris Beheading Victim is Teacher Who Showed Mohammed Cartoon in Freedom of Speech Lesson

A French police officer of the anti-crime squad, Brigade Anti-Criminalite de nuit (BAC N 75) is seen during a control in Paris, on October 16, 2020. (Photo by THOMAS COEX / AFP) (Photo by THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images)
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France’s anti-terrorism police are investigating after a man was beheaded in Paris on Friday evening, allegedly by a man shouting “Allah Akbar”.

Update 1900 GMT — killer may have shouted “Allah Akbar”
Wire service Reuters reports witnesses that heard the attacker should “Allah Akbar” — commonly translated as “God is great” or “my God is the greatest” — as he struck. The report notes that police were ‘checking’ these claims.

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One man was found beheaded in the north-western Paris suburb of Éragny, Val-d’Oise on Friday afternoon, after a police patrol came upon a man carrying a knife. Major French newspaper Le Figaro reports the officers ordered the man to drop his weapons and when he didn’t and acted aggressively towards them they opened fire, killing him.

Shortly afterwards, the decapitated body was discovered by officers, the paper reported. Because the suspect was wearing an explosive vest the officers could not approach the body immediately and bomb disposal officers were called onto the scene.

Various reports in French media claim the suspect was carrying, in addition to the explosive belt, a knife, gun, or both. It is not clear at what time the original killing took place, but it appears — according to reports — that enough time elapsed for the killer to upload an image of the killing to his Twitter account. While the account was immediately deleted by Twitter, screenshots of the original post have been posted elsewhere and have been reported on by French media.

One quoted the alleged killer’s Twitter comments as: “o Macron, the leader of the infidels, I executed one of your hellhounds who dared to belittle Muhammad.”

The investigation of the attack has been taken on by France’s national counter-terrorism police, who are considering a case of “assassination in connection with a terrorist enterprise”.

Actu17, a news site with links to French law enforcement and Europe-wide radio network Europe1 both report the victim in the beheading was a teacher who had shown cartoons of the Islamic prophet Mohammed during a class, and that this may have been the motivation for the killing. Paris newspaper Le Parisien goes further with the claim, noting sources who claimed the victim was a history teacher who had shown the cartoons as part of a lesson on freedom of expression.

Mohammed Cartoon Attacks in Europe By Jack Montgomery

This is not, by far, the first act of violent extremism over the existence of cartoons portraying Mohammed. Radical Islamic terrorists massacred 12 people in Paris at the offices of the satirical Charlie Hebdo magazine in 2015, including a police protection officer and a building maintenance workers, over its publication of unflattering cartoons of the Islamic prophet.

As recently as last month a Pakistani migrant badly injured two people with a meat cleaver outside those same offices — long vacated by Charlie Hebdo‘s surviving staff — to disrupt the trial of various people connected to the 2015 attack, and the related siege of a kosher supermarket.

Western countries also experienced widespread disorder when Danish outlet Jyllands-Posten published depictions of Mohammed in 2005 — depictions republished by Charlie Hebdo in solidarity.

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