A high school teacher in Paris was decapitated Friday afternoon in what authorities call a possible terrorist attack that occurred after the educator showed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to his students.
French authorities reported the deadly attack that happened after 5 p.m. local time near a school in the northwest Paris suburb of Conflans-Saint-Honorine, The Washington Post reported.
The country’s national anti-terror prosecutor opened an investigation for “murder in connection with a terrorist enterprise” and “criminal terrorist association” regarding the educator’s killing.
Media reports in France identified the teacher as a high school history educator who also taught geography courses.
Some parents of students in the teacher’s classes complained about the Prophet Muhammed caricatures that were shown in class, which the teacher reportedly showed while teaching a lesson on freedom of expression, France’s BFM television reported.
French news publication Le Monde reported that authorities working on the case were attempting to determine the motives behind the attack, as France’s education minister described the incident as “Islamist terrorism.”
“Tonight, it was the Republic that was attacked with the despicable assassination of one of its servants, a professor,” said Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer. “I think tonight of him, of his family. Our unity and steadfastness are the only answers to the monstrosity of Islamist terrorism.”
French President Emmanuel Macron also weighed in on the slaying after visiting the school where the teacher worked.
“One of our compatriots was murdered today because he taught … the freedom to believe or not believe,” Macron said, according to The Associated Press.
He also said the country shouldn’t allow the attack to divide it because doing so would be playing into the hands of extremists.
“We must stand all together as citizens,” he added.
The attack comes around the same time as the historic trial of 14 alleged accomplices in the January 2015 deadly attack on Charlie Hebdo, which is notorious for being targeted following the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.
Last month, Charlie Hebdo editors commemorated the legal trial’s start by reprinting the caricatures that sparked the attack.
Two people were stabbed outside the former Paris office of Charlie Hebdo just weeks after the reprinting, with authorities later saying the recent killings were a plot to attack the newspaper a second time, the Post reported.