JEDDAH: The Arab and Muslim world was united in its condemnation on Saturday after a teacher in France was beheaded in a terrorist attack.
Samuel Paty, 47, was murdered on his way home from school on Friday in the Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. His attacker, Abdullakh Anzorov, 18, a Chechen born in Moscow, was shot dead by police.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry expressed the Kingdom’s solidarity with the French people, and offered condolences to the victim’s family, the French government and its people.
The Ministry said the Kingdom rejected all violence, extremism and terrorism, and renewed its call to respect religious symbols and to refrain from stirring hatred by insulting religion.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, head of the Muslim World League, said acts of violence and terrorism were crimes in all religions.
He stressed the importance of making every effort to fight terrorism and uproot its evil, including defeating the extremist ideology that encouraged such crimes.
He urged France’s leaders to stand against all forms of terror and continue their efforts to eradicate anything that would undermine its security and stability.
In Cairo, Al-Azhar, the center of Sunni Muslim learning, denounced “this heinous crime and all other terror acts.” It said: “Murder is a crime that cannot be justified in any way. Al-Azhar also underscores its constant call for denouncement of hate speech and violence … and maintains the necessity of respecting sanctities and religious figures, and refraining from stirring up hatred by insulting religions.”
The murdered teacher taught history and geography at the College du Bois d’Aulne. At the beginning of October, he taught a class on freedom of expression for which he showed pupils caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. Parents and students said Paty gave Muslim pupils the choice to leave the classroom so as not to offend them or hurt their feelings.
Nine people have been detained for questioning about the attack, including one student’s father who complained about the class.
Abdullakh Anzorov had lived in France since he was 6, when his family claimed asylum, and he was granted a residence permit this year. A photograph of Paty and a message confessing to his murder were found on Anzorov’s mobile phone.
French anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said Anzorov loitered outside the school on Friday afternoon and asked students where he could find Paty.
“A teacher was assassinated for the work that he does, but freedom of thought, freedom of expression, and the ability to teach these fundamental principles in our schools have also been attacked,” Ricard said.