Updates: 18.10.2020 15:51

Paris – In France today, thousands of people are attending a rally in memory of high school teacher Samuel Paty, who, according to authorities, was killed and cut off his head by a young Chechen man on Friday in the Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. Meetings take place in Paris, Lyon, Marseille and other major French cities. French government officials stress the need to protect teachers from threats and intimidation.

Many participants brought printed slogans #JeSuisProf and #JeSuisEnseignant (#I amTeacher). Speakers emphasized the importance of protecting freedom of speech and teaching. Several thousand people attended a meeting in Paris’s Republic Square, convened by teachers’ unions and other civic associations. The memorial is attended in Paris by Prime Minister Jean Castex, the chairmen of the main parliamentary parties or former President François Hollande. The memory was supported by the editors of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

Representatives of the Chechen community in France also expressed their condolences and horror at the murder. The main imam of a mosque in Lyon, Kamel Kabtane, said that the high school teacher was only doing his job when he showed the pupils a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad during a freedom of speech class. At the meeting on Sunday, the act was condemned by other imams from the Lyon region.

In an interview with the Journal de Dimanche today, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said the government wanted to increase the protection of teachers facing threats for their work. According to an investigation by the anti-terrorist prosecutor’s office, the 47-year-old teacher faced threats on social networks after an hour in which he showed a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad. The threats were also addressed to the school where Paty taught. Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer denied the information that Paty would be in danger of being penalized by his superiors for the lecture.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told France 3 that he wanted to tighten control over funding for some Islamic associations operating in France. The financing of mosques and the education of imams should be addressed in a new law announced by President Emmanuel Macron in early October.

Police detained another person “from the attacker’s circle” as part of the murder investigation. In total, the police detained eleven people, including the parent of a Muslim girl who threatened the teacher or a girl who, according to the prosecutor’s office, is a member of the terrorist organization Islamic State. Investigators are trying to find out if the attacker had any accomplices.

France demonstration


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