Forensic teams in Aubervilliers on Monday. Photo: AFP
A 45-year-old French teacher made headlines the world over on Monday after telling police he had been stabbed by a man shouting about terror group Isis while preparing for lessons at a nursery school north of Paris.
The man was rushed to hospital for treatment to his wounds, the school was closed for the day, and the government announced it would step up security at France's schools.
Late in the afternoon, however, the teacher admitted that he had made the whole thing up. The education ministry reacted on Tuesday by suspending him from his duties, saying that he will not return.
The prosecutor's office told AFP that “a psychiatric evaluation will be made as soon as possible”, confirming that the teacher had stabbed himself with a box cutter.
But the story is far from over, with France still baffled as to why someone would invent a terror attack, particularly so soon after 130 people were killed in the Paris attacks last month.
According to France Info, the man may have been trying to get out of an upcoming inspection.
Indeed, the man was known to call in sick for inspections in the past, Le Monde newspaper noted.
In any case, the teacher's actions certainly haven't come across as well-calculated.
Le Monde pointed out that he was at the school unusually early, telling authorities he was stabbed at around 7am, long before most teachers and pupils would arrive.
He also hadn't appeared to take CCTV footage into account, with counter-terror police quickly realizing that no apparent intruder had been on the scene.
The teacher also reported that his “attacker” had yelled “This is for Daesh” (another word for Isis), a strange choice of words considering that the group has said in the past it would cut the tongues off anyone using it.
With France still in a national state of emergency after November's terror attacks, Monday's story hit a raw nerve across the country.
French authorities were particularly concerned because earlier this month the Islamic State's French-language magazine Dar-al-Islam called in its November edition for 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.”
While the French were no doubt reassured to learn the story was faked in the end, terror still won, noted Le Monde.
“If terrorism is partly based on its psychological impact, then a faked attack is surely the ultimate form it can take,” the paper noted.