He was a Paris cop executed while trying to foil the escape of the perpetrators of last week’s massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical Paris magazine.
Shocking video footage that quickly made its way onto the Internet and social media showed the two masked attackers approaching the wounded officer as he lay on the ground on the street outside. One assailant shoots the fallen officer in the head.
The cold-blooded act became one of the attack's signature images, though public attention focused mostly on the journalists slain inside.
The victim on the street was later identified as Ahmed Merabet, 42, an eight-year veteran of the force, one of two Paris police officers killed in the Charlie Hebdo assault.
Few missed the irony. Merabet was a devout Muslim of Algerian heritage, killed by Muslim extremists as he sought to stop the terrorists who targeted the staff of a publication that regularly mocked Islam.
On the spot in Paris where Merabet was slain, a makeshift monument features candles, flowers, tributes in French and English and handwritten signs that declare, “Je suis Ahmed” -- I am Ahmed.
The hashtag #JeSuisAhmed has spread on Twitter.
Over the weekend Ahmed’s brother, Malek Merabet, addressed the media during a memorial ceremony. He called his slain sibling the “pillar” of a family from Paris’ northeastern suburbs who helped care for his mother and relatives after his father’s death 20 years ago. He said “false Muslims” had gunned down his brother.
“He was very proud of the name Ahmed Merabet, proud to represent the French police, and to defend the values of the republic: liberty, equality, fraternity,” explained the brother, who then spoke poignantly about the broader issues widely discussed in France in recent days.
“I have a message for all the racists, Islamophobes and anti-Semitic people,” Merabet continued. “Do not confuse extremists with Muslims. Crazy people are not of one color or religion.”
The brother added: “Let me say it again: Stop lumping everyone together, to start a war, burning mosques or synagogues.... It won’t bring back our dead. And it won’t bring any comfort to the families.”
Follow @mcdneville for developments in the attacks in Paris