France's Macron calls Paris beheading 'Islamist terrorist attack'

Image credit:(Abdulmonam Eassa, Pool via AP)

French President Emmanuel Macron has called the beheading of a teacher in a north-western suburb of Paris an "Islamist terrorist attack".

Samuel Paty was murdered near the school where he worked, in the commune of Conflans Saint-Honorine on Friday.

"One of our citizens was assassinated tonight because he was a teacher, because he taught students about the liberty of expression, the liberty to believe or not to believe," Macron said.

"Our countryman was the victim of a cowardly attack. The victim of an Islamist terrorist attack."

Paty is said to have shown controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to his pupils. The attacker was shot dead by police.

The suspected killer, who officials said was an 18-year-old Chechen refugee, was armed with a knife and a plastic pellet gun.

The Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer and the Minister Delegate for Citizenship Marlène Schiappa said they would represent the government "in support of teachers, secularism, freedom of expression and against Islamism".

A trial is currently under way in Paris over a 2015 Islamist assault on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which was targeted for publishing the cartoons.The attack left 12 people dead, including famous cartoonists.

Three weeks ago, a man attacked and wounded two people outside the magazine's former offices.

Paty, a 47-year-old history and geography teacher, was decapitated near the school at around 5 pm local time.

The attacker then ran off, but local police alerted by the public were quickly at the scene.

Some Muslim parents said they had complained to the school and French media reported Paty had received a number of threats in the wake of the class.

Blanquer said the school had taken "appropriate" steps in response to the complaints in setting up measures that both "supported the teacher and opened up a dialogue with parents".

The minister added he would prepare a pedagogical "framework" on how to address the attack with students when they returned to school after half term.