Islamist attack: In a horrifying incident that shook the northern French city of Arras, a 20-year-old assailant brutally stabbed a teacher in a school, leaving President Emmanuel Macron to denounce it as an act of “barbaric Islamic terrorism.” Two other individuals were gravely injured and were in a fight for their lives, as Macron made this somber declaration after visiting the scene of the attack.
The slain teacher was hailed as a hero for intervening and potentially saving many lives during the assault. Macron paid his respects to the deceased educator, who lay beneath a covering surrounded by a pool of blood.
Despite the tragedy, Macron declared that the school would reopen on Saturday, emphasizing that France would not succumb to terror nor let anything divide the nation. He had previously urged unity among the French people in a national address, emphasizing the need to avoid importing the Israel-Hamas conflict into their lives.
While Macron did not draw a direct connection to the recent incident in Arras, he did stress that “terrorism strikes once again in a school, and in a context that we all know.”
The suspect, who has since been apprehended, was a former student of the Lycee Gambetta high school where the attack unfolded, according to a police source. Additionally, one of the assailant’s brothers was taken into custody in close proximity to the scene.
The investigation into the incident was swiftly handed over to the anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office. Although police could not confirm reports from local media that the attacker shouted “Allahu Akbar,” it was revealed that the assailant was on a state watchlist of potential security risks, known as a “Fiche S,” which contains thousands of names, with only a few being actively monitored.
The police source described the attacker as a Russian-born Chechen, though some French media outlets have identified him as a Russian-born Ingush. It was also revealed that an older brother of the alleged assailant was serving a prison sentence for his links to Islamist militant networks and the glorification of terrorist acts.
This tragic event is the latest in a series of Islamist attacks that France has faced in recent years, with the deadliest being the coordinated assault on entertainment venues and cafes in Paris in November 2015.
In 2020, a teacher named Samuel Paty was beheaded by a Chechen teenager who sought revenge for the teacher’s use of cartoons that mocked the Prophet Mohammad during a lesson on freedom of expression.
Education Minister Gabriel Attal has announced that security measures in schools across France will be reinforced in the wake of this attack. Macron also revealed that another attack had been thwarted in the broader Paris region on the same day.
Witnesses reported that the attacker appeared to be specifically seeking a history teacher, leading to speculation that this was not related to a personal dispute or vendetta against an individual teacher.
Students at the school were confined to their classrooms for hours, and the incident left a lasting impact on the community. A 15-year-old pupil named Louis expressed his shock, saying, “I’m shocked that this happened here. It shows it can happen anywhere.”
Arras, the site of the attack, is situated in the ethnically diverse northern region of France and has seen a rise in support for far-right political groups in recent years.