Authorities in France say that an 18-year-old man suspected in the beheading of a Paris teacher who showed his class drawings of the prophet Muhammed was shot and killed by police.
As CNN reported, sometime prior to his death, history and geography teacher Samuel Paty showed controversial drawings depicting the Prophet Muhammed to his students as part of a lesson on free speech. Specifically, the lesson reportedly had to do with the 2015 series of terrorist attacks that took place in and around Paris after the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published cartoons depicting Islam’s central figure. When all was said and done, 20 people had been killed, including 12 at the magazine’s Paris headquarters, and 22 were injured.
The parents of some Muslim students in the school complained, as Islam forbids artistic depictions of Muhammed and they found it offensive.
Nordine Chaouadi, a parent of one of the children at the school, said that Paty took the Muslim kids out of the class to spare their feelings.
“My son told me that it was just to preserve them, it was out of pure kindness, because he had to show a caricature of the prophet of Islam and simply said to the Muslim children: ‘Go out, I don’t want it to hurt your feelings,’ that’s what my son told me,” he said.
On Friday afternoon, according to a companion CNN report, the teacher’s body was found in the Paris suburb of Éragny-sur-Oise, his head having been removed. Police revealed little other information about the finding of his body or how the attack might have been carried out.
At the time, French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking at the scene of the crime, said the teacher had been the “victim of an Islamist attack.”
“[He was] killed because he was teaching students freedom of speech, the freedom to believe and not believe,” Macron said.
Similarly, French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said that the teacher was killed because he was teaching a class about one of the most important aspects of democracy: the right to express one’s self freely.
“Samuel Paty embodied our Republic’s most noble asset: its schools. He was cowardly murdered by enemies of freedom. We will be united, firm and resolute,” Blanquer said.
Later on Friday afternoon, the suspect was shot dead by police near where the teacher’s body had been found. Authorities have revealed no other information about the circumstances of the suspect’s death.
Officials have said that the suspect is an 18-year-old Chechen man.
In addition, nine other individuals, including the suspect’s parents, grandfather and brother, have been taken in for questioning.