France pays tribute to beheaded teacher for Muhammad caricatures
PARIS – France paid tribute on Saturday to teacher Samuel Paty, a year after being beheaded by an extremist after showing his class caricatures of the Muslim prophet Mohammed.
Paty, 47, was stabbed and then beheaded after leaving college where he taught history and geography in the peaceful Parisian suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine on the evening of October 16, 2020.
Paty’s violent death stunned the French. Educators saw it as an attack on core values teachers taught generations of schoolchildren, including separation of church and state and the right to blaspheme.
“To pay homage to Samuel Paty is to pay homage to the Republic”, declared Prime Minister Jean Castex, speaking at a ceremony where he was surrounded by Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer and in the presence of the victim’s family.
“Nothing could be worse than forgetting,” Castex said.
“Samuel Paty was a victim of Islamist terrorism and human cowardice. “
Castex unveiled a plaque at the entrance to the Ministry of Education which read: “Tribute to Samuel Paty… Assassinated by an Islamic terrorist for teaching and defending the values of the Republic, including freedom of expression.
Paying homage to Paty was also a way of supporting the Republican project, declared Castex, “the most promising bulwark against all barbarism”.
A former colleague, paying tribute, recalled how Paty sometimes led “philosophical debates on freedom, his Star Wars mug in his hand”.
Other tributes took place at the school where Paty taught in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. About a thousand people, including his former colleagues and students, attended the unveiling of a monument in his honor, in the form of a book.
There were also ceremonies in his hometown of Eragny-sur-Oise in the Paris suburbs and at the Elysee Palace.
The Twitter thread of French President Emmanuel Macron showed a montage of the various ceremonies, with extracts of the tributes paid to him by his colleagues and by Macron.
A square opposite the Sorbonne University in the Latin Quarter of the capital must bear the name of Paty.
Schools in at least three cities already bear his name, including in the multi-ethnic eastern Paris suburb of Valenton.
Coming in the wake of further attacks blamed on Islamist extremists, the anniversary of Paty’s death has reignited the debate over integration and immigration into France’s officially secular society as the country heads for elections. presidential elections of 2022.
Paty’s killer Abdullakh Anzorov, an 18-year-old Chechen refugee, said the attack was revenge for Paty who showed his class cartoons of Mohammed printed in the virulent anti-religion magazine Charlie Hebdo during a lesson on freedom of speech.
The lesson infuriated some parents and sparked a social media fury full of rumors and lies about what had been taught.
Paty’s murder sparked a wave of emotion in France, with tens of thousands of people participating in rallies across the country to defend freedom of expression.
But French President Macron sparked a reaction when he vowed the country “will not give up on cartoons,” sparking counter-protests in some Muslim-majority countries, including Turkey, Libya and Tunisia.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to access The Philippine Daily Inquirer and over 70 titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download from 4 a.m. and share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.