Samuel Paty was brutally decapitated Oct. 16 outside a middle school in a north Paris suburb where he worked.
Paty, 47, a history and geography teacher, was targeted by an 18-year-old Muslim incensed that Paty had shown his class controversial cartoons from the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
The Paty incident would soon become part of a new wave of Islamist violence in France. On Thursday, a man with a knife entered a church and killed three in Nice, France.
One of the victims was said to be “virtually beheaded” in a similar fashion to what happened to Paty. The suspect, whot and wounded by police, was reported to have repeated the phrase “Allahu Akbar,” the Arabic chant of “God is greater,” over and over.
These violent incidents follow on the heels of a Sept. 25 attack in which a Pakistani Muslim teenager walked up to two bystanders in the 11th Arrondissement (governmental administrative district) in Paris and slashed them with a knife, sending them to the hospital with serious injuries.
Paris is no stranger to violent crime, but this was not a random attack. The September crime took place outside the old Charlie Hebdo offices that were the site of a massacre just five years earlier, when Islamist gunmen killed 12 people and injured 11 others.
The terrorists said they acted in response to the magazine’s depiction of the Islamic Prophet Mohammed and what they perceived to be the mocking of Islam.
The Pakistani teen in the Sept. 25 attack claimed the slashings were “in the context of the republication of the cartoons.” Those cartoons are the same images of Mohammed that the 2015 attackers cited to justify their act of mass murder.
The two newest attacks likely stemmed from the trial of 14 people suspected of helping the terrorists carry out the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket. The trial began at the end of September.
To commemorate the victims and as an act of defiance, Charlie Hebdo republished some of the original cartoons that motivated the 2015 massacre.
In the wake of the original Charlie Hebdo slayings, France finds the threat of radical Islamist terrorism forever locked into the national psyche. French citizens are uniquely at risk of being targeted by Muslim extremists.
As research produced by leading British counterterrorism expert Robin Simcox noted, “The threat in France has consistently increased from year to year … . This is not just because of an increase in the number of plots facing Europe overall. Over one-quarter (27%) of all plots against Europe in 2014 were focused on France.”
Simcox added: “There were 15 plots or attacks in 2014; 38 in 2015; and 59 in 2016.”
French President Emmanuel Macron has strongly denounced the violence and reaffirmed his country’s dedication to free expression. In a speech at Paris’ Sorbonne University honoring the slain Paty, Macron denounced Islamic terrorists, calling them “cowards” and “barbarians.”
The next day, Macron announced his intentions to clamp down on the rising tide of radical Islamism in France. He announced his intention to dissolve the pro-terrorism Cheikh Yassine Collective, a group created by the radical Islamist activist who killed Paty and who was subsequently fatally shot by police.
Nile Gardiner, director of The Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, praised Macron’s push to combat Islamist terrorism.
“President Macron’s decision to actively shut down pro-terrorist groups in France is an important step in curtailing Islamist violence,” he said. “French anti-terrorism forces are some of the best in the world, and they are well-prepared to protect the French people.”