Jean-François Ricard, France’s top antiterrorism prosecutor, said that “the words uttered by the assailant” at the time of the stabbing indicated it was a terrorist attack. He did not specifically confirm reports that the attacker shouted “Allahu Akbar,” or God is great, in Arabic.
Agence France-Presse, the news agency, reported that the social media posts of the assailant, identified only as Jamel, were often dedicated to denunciations of Islamophobia in France and attacks on prominent right-wing commentators, including Eric Zemmour, the author of the best-selling book “The French Suicide.”
More recently, those posts were dominated by verses from the Quran. Days after the beheading six months ago of a teacher, Samuel Paty, who had shown cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed to a class on free speech, the assailant had joined a campaign titled “Respect Mohammed, Prophet of God,” the agency reported.
It was not clear, as a wide-ranging police investigation began, whether the man, who was living in Rambouillet, had acted alone. Several recent terrorist incidents have involved self-radicalized individuals who have proved hard for the French authorities to trace.
President Emmanuel Macron reacted to the killing with vows to fight on unbowed against “Islamist terrorism.” Before the killing, he had promised in an interview with Le Figaro to recruit an additional 10,000 police officers and gendarmes, a reflection of his determination to uphold “the right to a peaceful life.” This phrase was quickly mocked after the stabbing.
“A peaceful life, Emmanuel Macron?” Guillaume Peltier of the center-right Republicans wrote on Twitter, accusing the president of “an inexcusable renunciation of courage and action.” As for Ms. Le Pen, she was blunt: “France cannot stand this any longer.”