LAURENCE GEAI FOR “THE WORLD”
ReportageThe history and geography teacher had been attacked by some parents after a class intervention on freedom of expression in connection with the cartoons of Muhammad. The main suspect was killed during his arrest.
It was the last class of the day, the last before the school holidays of All Saints too. It was 2 p.m. on Friday, October 16, when 12-year-old Samia (name has been changed) said goodbye to her history-geography teacher. “Happy holidays sir! “, she told him before leaving the enclosure of the college of Bois d’Aulne, in the heart of the quiet district of Chennevières, in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, in the Yvelines. Three hours later, the 47-year-old teacher was found beheaded in the middle of the street, only three hundred meters from the school, “Savagely attacked when he was probably walking home”, comments a police officer posted near the crime scene.
It is here, in the heart of a maze of alleys lined with tidy pavilions with well-trimmed hedges, at the corner of rue du Buisson-Moineau and rue de la Haute-Borne, which marks the border between the communes of Conflans and Eragny, between the Yvelines and the Val-d’Oise, that the drama unfolded. The witness who warned the police at first believed that “The victim was a model so much the scene was surreal of violence”, testifies a police officer.
Armed with a “Very long and very sharp knife”, he continues, the assailant – 18 years old, of Russian nationality and of Chechen origin, according to an identity document found on him by the police – fiercely attacked the professor until he sliced the head. A claim message was posted to a Twitter account minutes after the drama, with a photo of the decapitated head.
The young man was shot dead by the police a few meters away, to the cries of «Allahou akbar». Four people, including a minor, from his family circle, were taken into custody in the evening from Friday to Saturday, according to Agence France-Presse. The National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office (PNAT) announced that it had been seized of the investigation, opened for “Assassination in connection with a terrorist enterprise” and “Criminal terrorist association”.
Samia triturates her fingers when she speaks, crosses and uncrosses them, pulls on the sleeves of her pale gray sweatshirt, thrusts her hands in, then stretches her arms out before hiding them behind her back. She’s not crying. More. And manages to evoke this professor to whom she had already become attached, a professor who “Explained things well”, she says. “You even told me he was really nice”, intervenes his mother, Alicia, 40, American-Moroccan, waitress in a restaurant in Paris.
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