The town of Arras in northern France woke up in shock on Saturday following the Friday morning attack at Gambetta High School. Classes were suspended, and a psychological support team was deployed to assist those affected. The entire educational community in France is reeling from this incident, occurring exactly three years after the shocking murder of teacher Samuel Paty that shook the entire nation. Education Minister Gabriel Attal announced heightened security measures in schools across the country following the attack.
Once again, terror has gripped France, a situation that French authorities have feared in recent days. On Friday morning, a man armed with a knife killed a teacher and severely injured two others, one of them in critical condition. The perpetrator, a 20-year-old of Chechen origin and a former student at the school, was under surveillance by the authorities, and his phone was tapped. However, there was no immediate indication that he might act, highlighting the complexities of such surveillance efforts in France.
Eight other individuals close to the attacker, including his 16-year-old brother, who attended a different school in Arras, have been detained, bringing the total to nine. The Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office swiftly took charge of the investigation, leaving little doubt about the terrorist nature of the attack shortly after the incident came to light. The investigation in progress aims to provide more information about the attacker and his motives.
President Macron, visiting the crime scene on Friday afternoon, not only condemned the “Islamic barbarism” behind the attack but also revealed that security forces thwarted another attack in a different region of the country on the same day.
These events occur nearly three years after the murder of teacher Samuel Paty on October 16, 2020, in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, northwest of Paris. Paty was stabbed and beheaded by Abdoullakh Anzorov, a Russian refugee of Chechen origin, for showing cartoons of Muhammad in class during a lesson on freedom of speech. Anzorov was subsequently shot by the police.
This latest incident adds to the tragic list of educators who have lost their lives in France while carrying out their duties, reflecting the challenges faced by the education system and society at large in combating extremism and ensuring the safety of both students and teachers.