A French nursery school teacher admitted on Monday that he had fabricated a story about being attacked by a hooded man claiming to be acting on behalf of the Islamic State (IS) group, according to the local prosecutor’s office.
The 45-year-old teacher was rushed to hospital with minor stab wounds to the side and throat shortly after the alleged assault at a school in the northern Paris suburb of Aubervilliers on Monday morning.
He initially told authorities that he had been preparing for class when a man wearing overalls and a balaclava grabbed a knife-like object and attacked him.
The teacher further claimed that the alleged assailant had shouted, “This is Daesh. This is a warning.”
Daesh is another name for the IS group, which is also known as ISIS or ISIL.
Prosecutors were questioning the teacher, whose injuries were not considered life-threatening, over why he lied.
He has since been sent for psychological testing, prosecutors said Tuesday.
With France still on edge a month after the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people and were claimed by the IS group, the investigation had been immediately taken over by anti-terrorism prosecutors.
The case even prompted a visit by Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, who vowed to boost security at France’s schools.
Just last month, the IS group’s French-language magazine Dar-al-Islam called on its followers to kill teachers in the French education system, describing them as “enemies of Allah”.
“This education, in the case of France in particular, is a means of propaganda used to impose the corrupt way of thought established by the Judeo-masonry,” it said:
“Muslims must know the French education system is built against religion and Islam as the only religion of truth cannot cohabit with this fanatic secularism.”
Last month’s attacks in Paris saw France impose a three-month state of emergency and led to a Europe-wide manhunt for suspects.
“We will continue to reinforce security measures at schools in a context where schools feel threatened,” said Vallaud-Belkacem on Monday.
Rachel Schneider of the main primary school teachers’ union SNUipp said the IS group threats had alarmed faculty members.
“We have received many calls from colleagues, who are very worried. They don’t necessarily think there will be an organised attack, but they fear this message of murderous madness will inspire unstable people to action,” she said.
Earlier the same day, reports surfaced that a teacher in Aubervilliers, northeast of Paris, was attacked by someone wielding a box cutter and a pair of scissors as he was preparing for class. The teacher was hospitalized with light stab wounds shortly afterward, as police launched a manhunt to find the alleged attacker.
Fear in France on the rise
The accusation came nearly a month after a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris claimed by IS. France has been on high alert since that day, as authorities continue to investigate suspects with potential links to the massacre.
According to AFP news agency, a French-language magazine published by IS called on its followers last month to kill French teachers, whom they referred to as “enemies of Allah.”
The man’s accusations also came a day after Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front party lost in second-round elections. A large portion of Le Pen’s base was made up of voters opposed to immigrants from the Middle East.