Fill Me In
Over the span of a month, France went through two of the most heart-breaking events in 2020: a beheading of a teacher and the stabbing terror attack. So, what exactly happened?
What has the French president said to outrage the Muslim world?
The French President has been under attack from leaders and citizens from Muslim countries for the comments he made about Islam.
His speech in early October where he declared that Islam is a “plaque by radical temptations and by a yearning for a reinvented jihad which is the destruction of the other” has flipped the Muslim world upside down.
The controversial speech has infuriated many Islamic countries around the world with Turkey and Pakistan accusing the French president of Islamophobia.
Macron has also been vocal about supporting religious cartoons which has caused widespread protests from different parts of the world such as Bangladesh, Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Pakistan.
It is believed that shops in Qatar and Kuwait have also removed French products from their shelves.
What triggered the attack?
Days before the killing of Samuel Paty, a middle-school history and civics teacher, Macron made a controversial speech where he declared “Islam is a religion that is in crisis today all over the world.”
He spoke on the idea of “Islamist separatism” within France and also “Islam of Enlightenment” that would integrate French Muslims better with the French way of life.
He proceeded to outline his plans of allowing imams to train overseas, reduce home schooling, and to take control of religious funding which were expected to commence in December 2020.
Teacher beheaded over Prophet Muhammad cartoons
Samuel Paty was on his way home from work when he was brutally killed in the suburban town northwest of Paris. The attacker, Abdoulakh A, an 18-year-old Chechen who was born in Moscow cornered the teacher on the street and stabbed him repeatedly before decapitating him.
Based on initial investigations, it is said that the killer went to the school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine and had no links to either Paty or the school.
He was shot dead by the police shortly after the attack. Seven more people were also charged over Paty’s killing.
Why was the teacher targeted?
Paty, 47, was targeted after he showed the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad during a class about freedom of speech earlier October. This has angered some parents as depictions of the Prophet are considered irreverent by Muslims.
However, this was not the first time he had done this. In similar of his lessons, Paty has also made it a point to encourage Muslim students to leave the room if they happen to find the topic of discussions offensive.
The recreation of the Prophet Muhammad has always been a sensitive issue in France because of the Charlie Hebdo case, which has caused uproar in the Muslim world.
After the brutal killing of Paty, Macron defended freedom of expression where he was quoted saying: “We will not give up caricatures and drawing, even if others back away.”
Nice stabbing incident at the church
Not too long after the killing of Paty, France was once again plunged into mourning after three people were killed in a knife attack at a church in Nice.
According to France chief anti-terrorism prosecutor, Jean-François Ricard, the suspect was seen arriving in Nice via the city’s railway station on Thursday morning.
He then walked into Dame basilica at 08:29 local time (16:29 SGT) where he attacked and “virtually beheaded” an elderly woman. The church worker received fatal wounds to the throat.
A second woman who was also attacked managed to escape and run to nearby bar but later died due to injuries.
The police have yet to identify the man but it is suspected that he is a Tunisian national born in 1999 where he entered Europe on 20 September via boat. He was shot by the police at the scene and is currently in the hospital.
A 47-year-old man was also suspected of being in contact with the knifeman the day before the killing. The French police have since arrested him.
Who were the victims?
A man and two women were killed in the tragic event.
One of them has been identified as 55-year-old Vincent Loquès, a father of rwo daughters who had his throat slit by the knifeman when he was opening the church.
The second victim, who escaped from the church and took refuge in a restaurant nearby, was identified as Simone Barreto Silva, a 44-year-old mother of three who was a caregiver for the elderly.
The third “almost beheaded” woman has yet to be named by the police and was found near the holy water font in the church.
What is Singapore’s stance on the terror attacks?
The authorities in Singapore have denounced the attacks in France with Mufti Nazirudin Mohd Nasir condemning the attacks and describing it as “heinous crimes attacked on innocent individuals in the most sacred of places”.
In a letter to leaders of Singapore’s Christian community, he shared that the attacks are not only an affront to the sacredness of the human soul but also an assault on Islam.
On Sunday (1 November), Masagos Zulkifli, Minister of Muslim Affairs shared that the Mufti and MUIS have educated and guided Singapore Muslims to remain true to the principles of Islam: love and compassions in the way they practice their religion.
These fundamental principles apply to all parts of their life, including reacting to events that are happening in and out of Singapore, such as the terror attacks in France.