Home International French teacher’s killer sent SMS to parent angry over caricatures

French teacher’s killer sent SMS to parent angry over caricatures

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The parent is one of 16 people now held in custody over the blood-curdling killing of 47-year-old history teacher Samuel Paty.

Richard Ferrand, the speaker of the French National Assembly, and members of parliament during a tribute to Samuel Paty, the French teacher who was beheaded on the streets of the Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. Picture: Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters

PARIS – The Chechen teenager who beheaded a French teacher for showing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in class had contacted a school parent who prosecutors said used social media to whip up a hateful campaign against the victim, a police source said.

The source said the attacker sent the Muslim schoolgirl’s father an SMS message and added that it was not clear whether the parent responded. BFM TV reported he had exchanged WhatsApp messages with the killer in the days preceding the attack.

The parent is one of 16 people now held in custody over the blood-curdling killing of 47-year-old history teacher Samuel Paty, one which horrified a country whose deep-rooted democratic values, the government says, are under attack from within.

“The enemy is here,” Prime Minister Jean Castex told parliament shortly after lawmakers held a minute’s silence in the National Assembly. “Radical Islam has infiltrated our society founded on tolerance.”

Paty was beheaded on a street in broad daylight in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a middle-class Paris suburb, by the 18-year-old Chechen, who was born in Moscow and had been living in France as a refugee.

Prosecutors said the attacker had approached pupils outside the College du Bois d’Aulne and asked them to identify Paty as he left for home. French media reported that four of those being questioned were students who accepted cash from the killer. It was not clear if they knew of his macabre motive.

A national tribute in honour of Paty will be held at Paris’ Sorbonne university on Wednesday. Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said Paty would be posthumously awarded the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest award.

Prosecutors said the assailant, shot dead by police soon after the attack, wanted to punish his victim for showing his pupils satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a class focused on freedom of expression earlier this month.

President Emmanuel Macron is increasingly concerned by what he calls Islamist separatism: the attempt by elements within France’s large Muslim community to impose conservative Islamic beliefs over the traditional values of the French Republic in some communities.

Authorities on Tuesday ordered the closure of a Paris suburb mosque that had shared on Facebook a video recorded by the parent being detained by police in which he called for Paty to be fired and called him a thug.

In a subsequent video, the parent identified the school and teacher by name.

Castex told lawmakers France was in need of a law against endangering the lives of others via social media networks.