A Muslim university student in France has admitted he stabbed his professor to death with a steak knife because he ‘insulted the Prophet Mohammed’.
The 66-year-old Irish academic, named by police as John Dowling, was attacked and stabbed 13 times in the throat while standing outside the Leonardo da Vinci University in Paris where he worked on Wednesday.
Ali R., a 37-year-old Pakistani national, has confessed to the killing and told police he held a personal grudge against the teacher after failing his exams last year.
Ali – whose surname has not been disclosed by the French authorities – is due to be indicted for murder in Paris today for the attack outside the Leonardo de Vinci private university in La Defense business district.
MailOnline reports: Catherine Denis, the Nanterre prosecutor involved in the case, said Ali harboured an ‘obsessive resentment’ against the university for kicking him out in September 2017.
‘He came to France two years ago to join the management school, but did not pass his first year,’ she said.
‘Since then he had been returning to the college, and had become unwanted to the point that he was not allowed in any more.’
CCTV footage shows Mr Dowling chatting calmly with Ali at around midday, before the attacker took out a steak knife and plunged it into the Irishman’s throat, and then into his chest.
Ali has told police that the teacher had made fun of his Muslim religion during English classes at the university.
‘He produced a drawing, which he showed off in class, insulting the Prophet Mohammed,’ Ali said, according to Ms Denis.
Despite this claim, Ms Denis said ‘nobody remembers such an incident. ‘We don’t have proof of radicalization, but rather a feeling that we’re dealing with someone who is very religious, very pious, very practicing.’
Insulting the Prophet Mohammed is one of the gravest insults to Islam, and has directly led to terrorist atrocities in France.
In January 2015, two gunmen linked to Al-Qaeda murdered 12 people at the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, after it published insulting cartoons of the Prophet.
Ms Denis said Ali R. was not known to the intelligence services, but was an ‘obsessive patriot’ from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
He had just renewed his residency permit to stay in France, and had bought the steak knife from a supermarket close to the university.
There are indications that he may have arranged to meet his victim, and police are combing through telephone and email records to try and establish a link.
He has confirmed that he enrolled in a bachelor’s management course for foreigners at De Vinci in September 2016, but was forced to leave in August 2017 after failing his exams.
Mr Dowling had taught English and international relations at the university for two decades, and had made numerous friends there, including plenty of overseas students.
La Defense – a concrete and glass suburb which contains the head offices of some of the biggest banks and businesses in France – has been a target for Islamic State terrorists since at least 2014.
Despite this, detectives have so far ruled out any links between the attacker and jihadi groups.
On Friday, tributes continued to pour in for Mr Dowling, who had been due to retire at the end of this academic year.
There was a minute’s silence outside the university on Thursday, before the Irish national anthem was played and a crowd gathered around a green-white-and-orange Tricolour.
Pascal Brouaye, head of the college, said: ‘Since yesterday, messages of friendship have overwhelmed us like a tsunami.
‘It shows how much John was appreciated by students and graduates. The minute’s silence was intense and it was followed by beautiful music, played on the piano by a student of the school.’