Paris knife attack suspect wanted to avenge Prophet cartoons

A man armed with a knife seriously wounded two people on September 25, 2020, in a suspected terror attack outside the former offices of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris. (AFP)
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Updated 28 September 2020

Paris knife attack suspect wanted to avenge Prophet cartoons

  • The suspect, who is from Pakistan, was arrested soon after two people were wounded in front of the old offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine

PARIS/ISLAMABAD: French police are studying a video in which the man suspected of attacking people with a meat cleaver on Friday says he will commit an act of “resistance” after the republication of cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad in a satirical magazine.
The suspect, who is from Pakistan, was arrested soon after two people were wounded in front of the old offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine. Officials said his clothes were spattered in blood.
The video was found on the suspect’s mobile phone, French media reported. Reuters could not independently authenticate the video recording. A police source confirmed a video was being examined.
In the video, the suspect identifies himself as Zeheer Hassan Mehmood and says he came from Mandi Bahauddin in Punjab province. Starting to sob, he then recites poetry praising the Prophet Muhammad.
“If I’m sounding emotional, let me explain: here, in France, the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad were made,” he says in Urdu. “I am going to do (an act of) resistance today, Sept. 25.”
Mehmood’s father praised his son.
“My heart is filled with happiness,” Arshad Mehmood told the online news site Naya Pakistan from the family home. “I can sacrifice all my five sons to protect the Prophet’s honor.”
“He called us ... and said that the God’s Prophet had chosen him, and assigned him to kill the blasphemers.”
The cartoons were first published by Charlie Hebdo in 2006 and spurred militants to target the magazine’s office in 2015 in an attack that left 12 people dead and was claimed by Al-Qaeda.
The weekly, which moved to a secret location after the attack, republished the cartoons earlier this month to mark the beginning of the trial of 14 people with alleged links to the Charlie Hebdo killers.
For Muslims, any depiction of the Prophet is blasphemous.
Wearing a long tunic, the suspect said he was spiritually guided by Ilyas Qadri. Qadri is a Sunni cleric and the founder of Dawat-e-Islami, a non-violent organization spread across the globe.
Qadri says a person who commits blasphemy should be handed in to police, but if another individual were driven by their emotions to kill the blasphemer, the law should not apply.
Dawat-e-Islami did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Philadelphia curfew as anger boils over police killing of Black man

Updated 29 October 2020

Philadelphia curfew as anger boils over police killing of Black man

  • Thousands of people have taken to Philadelphia’s streets, with looting and violence breaking out, since police on Monday shot dead 27-year-old Walter Wallace
  • The US has seen a wave of protests and rioting since the police killing of George Floyd in May in Minnesota, when an officer was filmed pressing his knee to handcuffed Floyd’s neck

PHILADELPHIA: Officials in the US city of Philadelphia announced a nighttime curfew Wednesday following two nights of unrest over the latest police killing of a Black man whose family said suffered from mental health issues.
Thousands of people have taken to Philadelphia’s streets, with looting and violence breaking out, since police on Monday shot dead 27-year-old Walter Wallace, who was carrying a knife.
Wallace’s death and the subsequent demonstrations, in which riot police have used batons and shields to push back protesters throwing bricks and other debris, have reignited a political clash between Republicans and Democrats days before the election.
Philadelphia is the biggest city in the state of Pennsylvania, which is viewed as key to winning Tuesday’s presidential vote.
“It’s a terrible thing. What I am witnessing is terrible and frankly that the mayor or whoever it is that’s allowing people to riot and loot and not stop them is also just a horrible thing,” President Donald Trump told reporters.
The US has seen a wave of protests and rioting since the police killing of George Floyd in May in Minnesota, when an officer was filmed pressing his knee to handcuffed Floyd’s neck until he went limp.
Many of the protests have accused the police of racism and brutality, but Trump has focused on the unrest to bolster his claims to be the “law-and-order” candidate in his election battle against Joe Biden.
The Democratic challenger said it was “totally legitimate, totally reasonable” to protest peacefully.
“What I say is there’s no excuse whatsoever for the looting and the violence,” Biden told reporters after casting his ballot in his home state of Delaware.
Officials announced that the citywide curfew will last from 9:00 p.m. to 06:00 am (0100 to 1000 GMT Thursday).
Mayor Jim Kenney suggested other curfews may follow, telling reporters that decisions will be made daily on whether to implement one that night.
“I believe that as a certain percentage of people who abide by the curfew we’ll have less people on the street to deal with, which makes the job, and the safety of the officers better,” said Kenney, a Democrat.
More than 170 people have been arrested over the unrest, mostly for looting, according to police statistics.
Some 53 police officers have been injured, including one whose leg was broken when he was hit by a truck, while 17 police vehicles have been damaged.
Two officers shot Wallace around 4:00 p.m. (2000 GMT) on Monday afternoon after he refused to drop the knife as his mother tried to restrain him.
Phone video of the killing posted on social media showed Wallace push his mother away and then walk toward the police.
“Put the knife down,” one of the officers shouted in the video, which panned away as officers opened fire.
His family said he suffered from mental health problems and was on medication. Wallace’s father asked why officers did not taser him instead.
Police said they responded to a call about a domestic disturbance.
A lawyer for the family said Wallace was bipolar and the call to the emergency services was for an ambulance, not police.
Several hundred National Guard troops deployed by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s office are expected to arrive in Philadelphia beginning Friday.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw has launched an investigation into the shooting. The officers involved have not been identified.