THE Pakistani man who brutally stabbed to death a Dublin-born lecturer outside a univerity in France this week has claimed the Irishman "insulted" the prophet Muhammad.
English language teacher John Dowling, 66, was knifed 13 times outside Pôle Universitaire Léonard de Vinci in northwest Paris as he left for lunch on Wednesday.
Now 'Alli R.' – the 37-year-old former student student under arrest for the killing – has confessed that he held a personal grudge against the teacher after being kicked out for failing exams last year.
Catherine Denis, the Nanterre prosecutor involved in the case, said Ali harboured an "obsessive resentment" against university chiefs 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 anymore."
CCTV footage shows Mr Dowling chatting calmly with Ali outside the institution at around noon on Wednesday before the attacker took out a steak knife and plunged it into his throat and chest
Ali claimed to French police that the lecturer had made fun of Islam during ENglish classes at the university.
However, it must be stressed that the killer's claims are being treated as questionable at best and "nobody remembers such an incident" from the class, according to Ms Denis.
"We don’t have proof of radicalisation, but rather a feeling that we’re dealing with someone who is very religious, very pious, very practicing."
Ali 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 tests.
Mr Dowling had taught English language and international relations at the university since 1999, and was popular among students including many from abroad.
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 Ireland's flag.
Stephen Amoah, a 28-year-old student from Ghana, told The Local France: "It’s heartbreaking. We still can’t believe it".
His classmate Jad Sharif, a 33-year-old from Lebanon, described Mr Dowling as "very kind".
He added: "We liked him more than most of our teachers."
Former student Yosra Ibrahem said: "He was a good person who was known and well-liked by all. He was positive, dedicated and motivated and never did anything bad to anyone.
"Mr Dowling was one of the best teachers I had throughout my whole education."
Pascal Brouaye, head of the college, said tributes to the Irishman had overwhelmed the university "like a tsunami".
He added: "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."