France pays tribute to beheaded teacher for prophet cartoons
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 Muhammad.
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 French educators, who saw it as an attack on core values teachers have taught generations of schoolchildren, including separation of church and state and the right to blasphemy .
“To pay homage to Samuel Paty is to pay homage to the Republic”, declared Prime Minister Jean Castex during a ceremony flanked 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 Islamist terrorist for having taught and defended 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 barbarity”.
The family were also due to meet Macron at the Elysee Palace later in the day.
– National commemoration –
Also Saturday, a square opposite the Sorbonne University in the Latin quarter of the capital was to bear the name of Samuel Paty during a ceremony which, according to the town hall, would be “simple and contemplative”.
Schools in at least three cities have already been named after Paty, including in the multiethnic eastern Paris suburb of Valenton.
Following further attacks blamed on 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 to presidential elections in France. 2022.
Paty’s killer Abdullakh Anzorov, an 18-year-old Chechen refugee, claimed the attack was revenge for Paty who showed his class the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad 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 speech and the right to make fun of religion.
But French President Emmanuel Macron sparked a backlash when he pledged the country “will not give up on cartoons,” with counter-protests popping up in some Muslim-majority countries, including Turkey, Libya and Tunisia.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)