The death of Samuel Paty, a 47-year-old history and geography teacher, outraged the French, regardless of their profession. However, the biggest shock is experienced by Paty’s colleagues, who are preparing protests across France against the threat of Islamic terrorism and for freedom of speech. They vowed that they would continue to encourage and criticize the “critical spirit” in their students by teaching sensitive social issues.
The pretext for the murder of a teacher by a young Chechen was one hour of civic education. Paty showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad from Charlie Hebdo magazine to his students during a discussion of freedom of speech.
On Saturday, representatives of teachers’ unions met with Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer and Prime Minister Jean Castex. Prior to the meeting, Jean-Remi Girard, president of the High School Teachers’ Union, said teachers were “overwhelmed” but did not intend to be intimidated. “It’s scary to see that in 21st century France, a street teacher can be cut off for doing his job,” Girard said. “We will continue to teach about freedom of speech. We will continue to teach more complex subjects. We will try to encourage the critical spirit of our students and explain that everyone has the right to disagree. “
On Sunday, rallies are being held in cities across France as a show of solidarity and defiance. “It is absolutely important to show our mobilization and our solidarity, our national cohesion,” Education Minister Blanquer told France 2, urging everyone to support teachers. One of the meetings is to take place on the Place de la République in Paris. In 2015, approximately 1.5 million people protested at the same site after a deadly attack by Islamist militants on the offices of Charlie Hebdo. Protests will also take place in Lyon, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Nantes, Marseille, Lille and Bordeaux.
Samuel Paty, the history teacher, was beheaded by an Islamic terrorist in France. Islam is full of terrorism & barbarism. It must not be exempted from critical scrutiny. pic.twitter.com/EUGJdSeOMD
– taslima nasreen (@taslimanasreen) October 17, 2020
French President Emmanuel Macron, who described the murder as a “typical Islamist terrorist attack,” said France had been involved in the “existential” fight against terrorism.
From a parent’s complaint to a murder
Eighteen-year-old Abdoulakh A. with Chechen roots was born in Moscow. He came to France with his family as a small child with refugee status. He lived in the Norman town of Évreux, about 100 km from the murder scene, and had no apparent connection to a teacher or school. He was punished several times for minor offenses.
Police have already questioned his parents, grandfather and 17-year-old brother. On Saturday, she detained five other people, including the father of one of the students, who filed an official complaint with the teacher. The man’s half-sister has been a member of the Islamic State in Syria since 2014. He also arrested his acquaintance, who was not a new face for the intelligence services. A tenth person was later detained in connection with the attack, the French news station BFM TV said, referring to court sources.
The fateful civic and moral education class took place on October 5 at the Conflans-Sainte-Honorine school northwest of Paris. Within the compulsory subject, sensitive topics are commonly discussed, such as the issue of the death penalty, abortion, but also freedom of speech, which was the last topic. As part of Paty’s discussion, he presented cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Knowing that this could cause insult to some of his Muslim disciples, he suggested that these disciples may look away or leave the classroom.
But even that was not enough for the teacher to escape without criticism of the children’s parents. They began to appeal for Paty’s resignation and, after a meeting with the school management, filed an official legal complaint, against which Paty appealed for “defamation.” The father of a school student posted a video on YouTube calling him a “bully” who should “go back to school himself.” He also encouraged other parents to join him and demand that the teacher face disciplinary action. After a legal complaint, the teacher ended up at the local police station together with the school principal. He should have told the investigators on the spot that he did not understand where the problem was. The complaint was filed by the father of a student who was not at school that day.
The teachers for the killer were identified by the students
Due to the pressure and threats on the Internet, the teacher living near the institute began to worry about his safety and changed his routes from work home. The 18-year-old Chechen visited the school where Paty taught before the murder and asked the existing students to help him identify the teacher. The attack took place at around five o’clock on Friday near the College du Bois d’Aulne. The young man watched the teacher on the way home. He stabbed him several times in the head, which he then cut off. Witnesses reportedly heard the attacker shout “Allah Akbar”. The man then posted photos of the victim on Twitter, where he insulted Macron and the French “unbelieving dogs” in a comment. After the intervention of the police, the attacker fired at them. After the shootout, he ended up with nine wounds in the body. A blade 30 cm long was found near it.
The school is now facing an unpleasant investigation. Counter-terrorism prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard says police are trying to find out about pre-crime events and whether the killer has an accomplice.
The mourning crowd gathered in front of the school on Saturday. Paty’s colleagues, local politicians, officials and Paty’s former students arrived. Even for a country facing the worst terrorist attacks in Europe in eight years, Friday’s teacher murder was a shocking event that provoked crowd anger and fears of further events in France.
Posts with the hashtag #JeSuisProf (I am a teacher) began circulating on social networks, referring in solidarity to #JeSuisCharlie, a hashtag circulating on networks since the attack on the French editorial office of a satirical magazine. Emanuel Macron described the current mood in France as an “existential battle” against terrorism and radicalized domestic jihadists.
Paris has become highly vigilant in recent weeks, launching a trial in September of 14 suspects in the 2015 attacks. Islamist attackers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi to attack the newsroom. In addition to 12 members, Charlie Hebdo murdered a police officer and four people in a Jewish store. After reprinting the cartoons, the 18-year-old Pakistani stabbed two people near the former offices of Charlie Hebdo. The French authorities also described the three-week-old act as “manifestly terrorist”.
The French consider the latest attack to be an attack on the principle of freedom of expression. “This is the second attack that took place during the trial of Charlie Hebdo. This proves the high level of terrorist threat we face, “Ricard added.
France pays tribute to Paty on Wednesday.