The French government has raised the terrorism alert level to its highest point following a mass stabbing incident at a school in Arras. The attack took place on what had been declared the “day of jihad” by Hamas supporters. In response to the heightened threat, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced the elevated status of the Vigipirate alert system after meeting with President Emmanuel Macron. The public has been urged to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police.
Earlier that day, a Muslim man named Mohamed Mogouchkov, who was under police surveillance for his connections to Islamist extremist groups, fatally stabbed a teacher and seriously injured two other staff members at a high school in Arras. Mogouchkov, described as a “Russian national” of Chechen or Ingush origin, had previously been a student at the Lycee Gambetta. According to the police, he returned to the school on Friday morning and attacked the French language teacher, stabbing him in the throat and chest. Another teacher, a security guard, and a janitor also sustained injuries, although not life-threatening. Fortunately, no students were harmed in the incident.
Eyewitnesses reported that the attacker shouted “Allahu akbar” (God is great) as he carried out the assault. French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin stated that there was no doubt the attack in Arras was linked to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. The police have arrested not only Mogouchkov but also his mother, sister, uncle, and 17-year-old brother.
President Macron visited the school to condemn the “barbarity of Islamist terrorism” and call for unity among the French people. He urged them not to succumb to terror or allow anything to divide them. Macron praised the teacher who lost his life, saying that he had saved many others by attempting to protect them.
This attack in Arras comes at a time of heightened tensions between France’s Muslim and Jewish communities. The conflict between Israel and Hamas, resulting in over 1,300 deaths, has generated considerable unrest in the country. Additionally, France is grappling with social unrest caused by rampant inflation.
The call for a “day of jihad” by a former Hamas leader had put Western governments on alert for potential terrorist attacks on Friday. Khaled Meshaal, who currently heads the Hamas diaspora office, called on scholars to put their teachings into practice and support the Palestinians in their struggle. The French government’s decision to raise the terrorism alert level reflects the seriousness of the situation and the need for heightened security measures.
As the threat of terrorism continues to loom, it is crucial for individuals to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities to the authorities. The French government is taking decisive action to ensure the safety of its citizens and prevent further attacks. By staying united and resilient against terrorism, France and other nations can work towards maintaining peace and security for all.