Thousands have participated in rallies across France to honor slain Samuel Paty, the teacher knifed to death after using Charlie Hebdo sketches of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to his students in a civics class. People attending the rallies in Place de la République carried the slogan “Je suis enseignant” (I am a teacher), with PM Jean Castex saying: “We are France!”
The killer identified as Abdoulakh A was fleeing from the scene shot dead by police on Friday as he refused to give him up to the officers and surrender before law after beheading the tutor near his school in the city. Anti-terrorism prosecutors have no arrested an 11th suspect linked with the killed student to investigate the murder. No details have been issued to the media about the new arrest. Four close relatives of Abdoulakh A were apprehended shortly after the killing while 6 more were detained on Saturday including the student’s father. And a missionary alleged to be a radical Islamist.
President Emmanuel Macron said the attack in it had all the pre-requisites to label it as “Islamist terrorist attack” and the teacher met the cruel fate because he “taught freedom of expression”. The decapitation of the teaches comes as a trial over the 2015 attack on Charlie Hebdo in under way.
Locations of Demonstrations
Parisians have gathered at Place de la République, Paris to show their support for the deceased man and were accompanied by Prime Minister Jean Castex and city’s Mayor Anne Hidalgo. The square was filled with 1.5mn people to rally their support for satirical publisher, Charlie Hebdo after the brutal gun attack in Jan 2015. One protester in the square was seen carrying a sign that read “zero tolerance to all enemies of the Republic”, while another with the placard “I am a professor. I’m thinking of you, Samuel.”
One protester talking to Le Figaro said, she was a French Muslim and is attending the rally to record her protest at the beheading of the educator. A minute of silence was observed at the protests followed by the playing of the Marseillaise. All the demonstrators had mask considering the threat posed by Coronavirus pandemic. PM Castex tweeted the lines of the anthem, saying “You do not scare us… we are France!”.
Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said the enemies of the democracy will face the defeat and all the pedagogues in the country need the support from the state and public in this fight. Nathalie – a teacher by profession and hailing form Chelles – who was present in the protests, told Le Monde she was there after realizing that she could also “die of teaching”. “I am Samuel” banners and placards were carried by protesters making a considerable turnout in Lillie. Thousands also joined the march in Place Bellecour in Lyon to pay homage to the late teacher with another gathering taking place in Nates.
Large crowds also gathered in Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Marseille and elsewhere in the French Republic to protest the killing and pay their respects to Mr. Paty. Apart from protests on Sunday, there will be a national tribute paid to the slain teacher on Wednesday. Tareq Oubrou, imam of a mosque in Bordeaux, on Saturday told France Inter: “A civilization does not kill an innocent person, barbarism does.”
Anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-François Ricard said that the suspect, a resident of Normandy town of Évreux visited Paty’s school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine on Friday afternoon and asked the students about Paty. Of Chechen origin, Abdoulakh A, 18 was born in Moscow and had apparently no connection with the teacher or the school. He followed the teacher as he walked home after taking classes at his school. The suspect was armed with a knife and assaulted the teacher before cutting off his head. Witnesses are said to have heard the attacker chant the Muslim slogan “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest). Investigators said the man he earlier appeared in courts but only for public misdemeanor counts and not for a crime of serious nature.
Prosecutor Jean-François Ricard
The prosecutor Jean-François Ricard said Paty had been exposed to the risks after showing the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad to his pupils in class to lecture freedom of speech. As he had repeatedly opted to use the controversial sketches in his lessons, Paty, a history and geography teacher would ask the Muslim students to leave the class if they might find the cartoons offending.
A parent of one of the Muslim pupils also complained about Samuel Paty to the school administration. He registered the complained accompanied by another Muslim man, Abdelhakim Sefrioui, a preacher and activist who in his videos condemned teacher calling him a “voyou” (thug) and demanding he be laid off his job. Both Sefrioui and his father are in the police custody and have been known to being reportedly watched and followed by French Law enforcements agencies in the past.