Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shawki Allam denounced the killing of a school teacher on Friday in Paris, after he had reportedly showed caricatures of Prophet Mohamed, describing it as a “terrorist act.”
The attacker, an 18-year-old Chechen, decapitated the history teacher at Éragny-sur-Oise suburb, northwest of Paris, and was shot by police near the area, said the police, with no official confirmation of a motive.
The French president called the incident an “Islamist terrorist attack” against the teacher who taught children freedom of expression.
Allam said “this crime is categorically rejected by Islam and this act cannot be justified, because Islam has called for the protection of lives.”
He called on the French government to not hold Islam and Muslims accountable for a “criminal act by an extremist,” stressing the need to deal with the incident as a crime of an individual, in order to prevent the spread of hate speech against Muslim people.
“God Almighty has ordered his prophet -- peace be upon him -- to invite [all people] to the way of his God with wisdom and good instruction, not with murder and bloodshed as is being done by extremists and terrorists,” Allam added.
The mufti also called for activating hate speech-related laws, as a “deterrent” to anyone abusing others due to religion, race or gender.
France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation into the incident, with a suspected terrorist motive, AP reported.
The attacker was shot dead by police after refusing to put down his arms, a knife and an airsoft gun, a police official said.
The Friday attack comes more than a month after an 18-year-old man from Pakistan allegedly stabbed two people with a meat cleaver outside the former offices of the satirical Charlie Hebdo newspaper known to publish cartoons insulting Islam and its prophet. The suspect was arrested.
Earlier in October, President Emmanuel Macron gave controversial remarks vowing to fight what he called “Islamic separatism” and to send a bill to parliament early next year imposing further restrictions on Muslim people in the country.
Macron’s remarks have been condemned by Egypt’s top religious authority, Al Azhar, as an “explicit call for racism and hate.”