One day after the attack in Annecy, the horror is still great. President Macron visited the victims and thanked the helpers – including a man who had opposed the attacker.
The police officers and paramedics who were involved in the knife attack in Annecy are gathered in the Prefecture of Annecy. President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte shake hands with them. “Without you, much worse could have happened,” said the President in his speech. “Each and every one of you was on the job and fulfilled your role. Remarkable. Your professionalism, your drive.” In this way they would have prevented further crimes from being committed. He is very proud of this commitment.
Among the people in the prefecture is a young man with a blue T-shirt and a tricolor on his sleeve – already known as “le Héros au sac à dos”, “the hero with the backpack”. Yesterday he confronted the perpetrator, the backpack in front of his body. So he pushed him off the playground and prevented him from attacking other children.
Henri, a devout Catholic, told BFM TV that he was on a nine-month journey through France, from cathedral to cathedral. “Unfortunately, my journey crossed paths with this bloody act. I tried to act as any Frenchman would have; I followed my instincts and tried to protect these children.”
Four small children injured
The 31-year-old Syrian had previously seriously injured four small children, including an English and a Dutch child. Two elderly men were also injured. Before meeting the emergency services, the presidential couple had visited the victims of the attack in the hospital.
The alleged perpetrator underwent a thorough psychological examination today. The public prosecutor’s office does not currently assume a terrorist background. Abdalmasih H. came to France last November and applied for asylum; only a few days ago the application was rejected.
He had previously lived in Sweden for ten years and had recognized refugee status there. His mother, who lives in the United States, told AFP news agency that he was suffering from severe depression. He suffered from the fact that his application to become a Swedish citizen was repeatedly rejected.
debate on asylum law
The attack in Annecy has sparked a new debate on immigration in France. Marine Le Pen, chairwoman of the right-wing populist Rassemblement National, criticized the far too loose French asylum law. “We have to significantly restrict the right to asylum and align it with real criteria,” she demanded. “The criteria that apply today have been stretched to the extreme.”
Asylum seekers have the right to lodge a complaint for up to a month after the rejection, government spokesman Olivier Véran said on radio station France Info. The demands from the right to deport asylum seekers more quickly came to nothing. “The fundamental question to which we must find an answer together is what happens to a person in order for him to commit such an act.”
Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire tried to clear up the newly ignited immigration debate with fundamental words. Today is not the moment for politics, but the moment for the nation. “Now constantly commenting and making noise at a moment when children are suspended between life and death is a form of indecency.”
And Henri, the young man with the rucksack, cannot understand the hustle and bustle about his person at all. National hero – the designation is wrong. “The truth is, everyone should have acted that way,” he says. “And I was just right there.”