A former student, of Pakistani origin, had fatally stabbed this teacher in front of the Leonardo da Vinci university in the suburbs of the city of Paris in December 2018.
After the Sarah Halimi affair in France, Ali Hassan Rajput’s judgment will no doubt once again stir up controversy.
On December 5, 2018, a former student of the Leonardo da Vinci university in La Défense (Hauts-de-Seine) had fatally attacked an English teacher, John Dowling, 66 years old, with a meat cleaver. On Thursday, May 6, the court considered that the 37-year-old Pakistani was “criminally irresponsible” for his act, according to French daily Le Figaro. The cause: the individual seemingly suffered from “paranoid psychosis”, according to experts. He therefore will not stand trial. The investigation chamber ordered his “hospitalization, under duress”.
This Pakistani – who speaks only Urdu and English – had been admitted to the Leonardo da Vinci university in 2016, but had not passed his school year. He was excluded from the course in August 2017. At the time, the public prosecutor of Nanterre, Catherine Denis, had described the murderer as “not delusional, but not in tune with the facts”. He allegedly admitted to having “killed his teacher with several stab wounds”.
The images of CCTV cameras, located in front of the university, had confirmed this. Around noon on that day, the English teacher left for lunch. He walked past the students scattered in Mona-Lisa Square. They watched this near-retired teacher walk towards Ali Hassan Rajput, a former student many preferred to avoid. Images showed the suspect chatting “calmly” with the victim before he suddenly attacked him with a meat cleaver he had hidden on his person.
The 37-year-old man appeared, in 2018, “totally obsessed with his eviction from college”. Also, the magistrate had specified that the suspect had been personally angry with his victim. The English teacher John Dowling had “made a drawing that he had distributed in class in 2016”.
The alleged murderer had viewed it as “insulting the prophet” Mohammed. However, “nothing confirmed this version” according to his defence lawyer, because “nobody remembered such an incident”. The individual apparently never exhibited “an element of radicalization” but had been perceived as a Muslim who was “very religious, very pious, very practicing”.
But Rajput himself told investigators that he wanted to avenge the prophet, insulted by Dowling in class. He told the judge that John Dowling was “against Islam” and he had presented “a drawing insulting” the prophet but also “a photo between a man and a woman which is not natural”. According to French tabloid Le Parisien, the day after his act, Rajput told investigators he had no regrets. “I am calm, peaceful. It was a burden for me.” Rajput had demanded “a Muslim lawyer, and not a woman” to represent him. The national anti-terrorism prosecution has never looked into the case.
He was not known to any intelligence service and had no criminal record, at least not in France. Investigators from the Hauts-de-Seine judicial police, however, spoke of a “worrying” profile, expressing “obsessive” resentment. Rajput’s Facebook account (entitled “C’est la Rana”) indeed revealed a personality with extremist ideas, for example openly supporting Khadim Rizvi, founder of a radical and violent Islamist party in Pakistan, in favour of the systematic death penalty for blasphemy.
At the end of November 2018, Ali Hassan Rajput wrote on the social network: “We need an insurrection, a revolution, a complete destruction of the rule of white men and the law of al-Saud” [the reigning dynasty in Saudi Arabia – editor’s note].
He also called for jihad, “battle for the stability of peace, fighting against demons like Israel, America, France and the hypocrites among us” and considered that Muslims “have the right to raise their voice of truth, to preach and even to kill disbelievers who are against Islam”.
The Pakistani had lost his right to be on French soil in September 2017 after his student visa expired. As Le Figaro pointed out on Thursday, May 7, the victim, Dowling, had been teaching in the establishment for twenty years. Of Irish origin, this English teacher was “appreciated by all”, according to his management. The autopsy revealed 23 wounds, including five in the head, three on the neck, six on the thorax and several “defensive lesions” on the arm.
It is interesting to note that the current Minister of Justice, Éric Dupond-Moretti is distinguished by his hostility towards Marine Le Pen. He appears to be the designated person to fight the president of the National Rally and any criticism of immigration. His focus explains the recent spate of judgements in favour of Islamic killers, some have argued.
Since Dupond-Moretti’s appointment to the government at the head of the Ministry of Justice last summer, the minister of “anti-racism” with “mixed blood” has spent a significant part of his media interventions to castigate Le Pen.
He had already shown his very marked commitment against the National Rally in the past, going so far as to vote for the outright ban of the former National Front on France Inter in 2015. The Minister of Justice believes the fight against the “racism and xenophobia” of the anti-immigration Le Pen is the most important battle.
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