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World Samuel Paty: Secular France finds itself at a crossroads after attack on teacher

16:30  21 october  2020
16:30  21 october  2020 Source:   cnn.com

Grisly beheading of teacher in terror attack rattles France

  Grisly beheading of teacher in terror attack rattles France PARIS (AP) — For the second time in three weeks, terror struck France, this time with the gruesome beheading of a history teacher in a street in a Paris suburb. The suspected attacker was shot and killed by police. French President Emmanuel Macron denounced what he called an “Islamist terrorist attack” and urged the nation to stand united against extremism. The teacher had discussed caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad with his class, authorities said. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.

a large crowd of people in front of a building: People gather on Place de la Republique in Paris on October 18 in an emotional tribute to Samuel Paty © Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images People gather on Place de la Republique in Paris on October 18 in an emotional tribute to Samuel Paty

France was irrevocably changed by the Paris terror attacks of January 2015. Three days of violence began with a massacre at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which had previously published controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed. They ended with a siege at a kosher supermarket.

Seventeen people were killed and long-simmering tensions over secularism, Islamism and religious equality erupted into public view. Anti-immigration rhetoric targeting France's Muslim communities also became increasingly common. Since then, these divides have only worsened with further attacks and the subsequent fallout.

Samuel Paty beheading: Teacher's slaying spurs protests across France

  Samuel Paty beheading: Teacher's slaying spurs protests across France An 18-year-old man of Chechen origin has been identified as the suspect in Friday's beheading of a schoolteacher in a suburb of Paris, a French judicial source told CNN Saturday.Demonstrators took to the streets of French locales Sunday lauding free speech and decrying violence against educators after the slaying of a teacher who used caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad during a lesson.

Last Friday, teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded in a terrorist attack in the northern Paris suburb of Éragny after displaying the controversial Charlie Hebdo cartoons to his students during a lesson, anti-terrorist prosecutor Jean-François Ricard said.

The 47-year-old's murder has now reignited the long-simmering conflict over secularism in France.

In early October, a matter of days before Paty's murder, French President Emmanuel Macron said: "There is in this radical Islamism, a methodical organization to contravene the laws of the Republic and create a parallel order, to erect other values." Macron was speaking in Les Mureaux, a north-western suburb of Paris where officials have been working with the Muslim community to combat Islamist extremism.

Death of Samuel Paty: BFM TV broadcasts a spot in tribute to the professor (VIDEO)

 Death of Samuel Paty: BFM TV broadcasts a spot in tribute to the professor (VIDEO) BFM TV pays tribute to Samuel Paty, the murdered history and geography teacher, through a spot. © BFMTV BFM TV pays tribute to Samuel Paty, the murdered history and geography teacher, through a commercial. On October 16, 2020, Samuel Paty, a history and geography teacher, was beheaded when he left his college in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, in Yvelines. As part of a moral and civic education class, he showed his students caricatures of Muhammad from Charlie Hebdo.

Paty's death was met with horror across France.

Macron paid tribute to the teacher, whom he said was "killed because he was teaching students freedom of speech, the freedom to believe and not believe."

Thousands gathered in and around the Place de la République in Paris on Sunday, to celebrate free speech and decry violence. Similar emotional demonstrations were held across the nation.

A national memorial event for Paty will be held on Wednesday evening in Paris.

Freedom of expression

Paty, who was 47, taught history and geography at the Collège du Bois d'Aulne. He used the cartoons in a class on freedom of expression -- a core tenet of French life.

He had warned Muslim students about the images in advance, offering them the chance to opt out of the session. Even so, the lesson sparked controversy in the weeks preceding his death, with one parent at the school lobbying for Paty's dismissal.

2 students facing possible charges over teacher's beheading

  2 students facing possible charges over teacher's beheading The killing of Samuel Paty has shocked the country and prompted a government crackdown on radical Islam. Seven people, including two students, will appear before an anti-terror judge for a decision on criminal charges over the killing of 47-year-old history teacher Samuel Paty on Friday. 1/2 SLIDES © Twitter via Abaca/Sipa USA(Sipa via AP Images ap-20293321773022.jpg 2/2 SLIDES © Provided by CBS News Undated file photo of teacher Samuel Paty.

a group of people holding wine glasses: A woman holds a placard reading © Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images A woman holds a placard reading "I am a teacher" as people gather on the Vieux Port in Marseille on October 18, in homage to history teacher Samuel Paty.

On October 7, that parent posted a video on Facebook calling for action against the teacher. The man publicly identified Paty, and demanded that the school dismiss him, according to France's national anti-terrorist prosecutor Jean-François Ricard.

A day later, the man filed a complaint about the class; Paty, in turn, filed a complaint for defamation. On October 12, the parent published a second video on YouTube targeting the teacher.

The man who killed Paty was a refugee of Chechen origin, identified as Abdoullakh Abouyezidovitch A. The 18-year-old approached students outside the school and asked them to point out his victim, Ricard said in a statement on October 17. Abouyezidovitch attacked Paty as he walked home after work. The teenager was not known to intelligence services.

Marine Le Pen holding a sign: Head of far-right party Rassemblement National Marine Le Pen speaks to the press three days after the beheading of Samuel Paty. © Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images Head of far-right party Rassemblement National Marine Le Pen speaks to the press three days after the beheading of Samuel Paty.

Before police gunned him down later on Friday, Abouyezidovitch posted on Twitter that he had executed one of Macron's "dogs of hell," who had belittled the revered prophet, Ricard said.

Homage to Samuel Paty: "We will not renounce caricatures, drawings"

 Homage to Samuel Paty: © Francois Mori / POOL / AFP During his speech to pay tribute to Samuel Paty, the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron affirmed that France , and its teachers, "will not give up" to teach and distribute caricatures and drawings. "We will continue to teach," promised the President of the Republic during his speech in tribute to Samuel Paty.

The love of laïcité

Secularism -- known as "laïcité" in French -- is deeply ingrained in French culture, with many believing that nothing -- not even one's religion -- should come before national identity. Yet for those with a strong faith, this tenet is a complex one to hold.

"It's an activist secularism," Catherine Fieschi, director of the Global Policy Institute at London's Queen Mary University, told CNN.

"Laïcité is a tenet of the Republic, it's cross-party. This cuts across the spectrum -- leftist social democrats are just as against religion in the public realm as [those on the right.]"

Fieschi said secularist laws had been intensifying since 1989. She believes Macron's decision to crack down on extremists may be a positive move for most French Muslims, as the government is opting to focus on extremist organizations and hate speech, rather than community integration.

"Macron has moved increasingly onto this territory since the summer," she said. "He has shifted to talking about separatism, not integration. They're not attacking the communities but these [...] vectors of hate, that are seeking to undermine these communities. They're not mentioning integration, that's not the conversation.

"I think we might actually see this as a turning point," Fieschi added, explaining that the fact that Abouyezidovitch "is not from a former French colony ... that in many respects ... gives the opportunity to French Muslim citizens to feel they're not being targeted by the government."

Plus belle la vie pays tribute to Samuel Paty with a moving scene in the teachers' room

 Plus belle la vie pays tribute to Samuel Paty with a moving scene in the teachers' room Once again, the writers of Plus belle la vie wanted to stick to the news by adding a scene to pay tribute to Samuel Paty . Blanche (Cécilia Hornus), the principal Rochat (Charles Schneider) and Coralie (Coralie Audret) evoke with emotion the death of the professor who was beheaded after showing a caricature in class. A moving sequence which was broadcast in the episode of this Wednesday, October 21, 2020 on France 3.

Crackdown on radical Islamism

Paty's killing came just weeks after two people were seriously injured in a knife attack near Charlie Hebdo's former offices.

The French state responded to Paty's murder with bullish measures. Judicial sources told CNN that 15 people were being questioned over the attack. Those in custody include the parent who called for the teacher's dismissal and members of the attacker's family. Students suspected of helping the perpetrator identify Paty are also in custody, the sources said.

Macron and his government have been quick to declare a crackdown on extremist Islamists.

On Tuesday, the President said French citizens -- especially Muslim citizens -- needed to be protected from radical Islamism, which aims "to turn some of our citizens against the Republic, because of their religion. We will not let this happen."

"What our citizens expect from us are actions," Macron said. "And these actions will be intensified."

He said dozens of measures had already been taken against organizations and individuals "pushing forward a radical Islamist project, in other words, an ideology aimed at destroying the Republic," adding that the investigation into Paty's beheading would show that some of these organizations "were involved in Friday's attacks."

Further actions will be announced in the coming days and weeks, Macron said.

On Monday, France's interior minister Gérald Darmanin said more than 80 online hate messages would be investigated in the wake of Paty's murder, adding that there would "not be a moment of respite for the enemies of our Republic."

France teacher's killer had 'contact' with jihadist in Syria

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Darmanin said on Twitter that 51 organizations and non-profit groups would be visited by state services this week, and several would be dissolved. The minister is also working to close a mosque in the northern suburbs of Paris. Darmanin said its director was one of those who re-posted a message calling for Paty to be threatened. The post also included the school's location.

Religious discrimination

France is home to more than 5 million Muslims -- the overwhelming majority are not radical Islamists, but many are nonetheless affected by the country's secular legislation.

A series of French laws have curbed how Muslim women dress over the last two decades.

In 2004 hijabs were banned along with Jewish skullcaps and large Christian crosses in public schools. Burqas and niqabs, which cover the face, were banned in 2011.

Legislators who supported the law, including then-President Nicolas Sarkozy, said the garments threatened French secularism and were debasing to women.

In a 2019 survey by pollsters Ifop, more than 40% of French Muslims questioned said they had experienced religious discrimination in the country at least once in their lives. That same month, thousands marched in an anti-Islamophobia demonstration through Paris, according to Reuters.

The task Macron now faces is one of colossal importance.

He is a year and a half away from an election, in which his main opponent is likely to be Marine Le Pen, the far right politician who, in the aftermath of Paty's death, called for the "eradication of Islamism" in France.

Macron has combined his moves against radical Islamism with public messages of unity.

"We shall stand together without any distinction, because we are first and foremost citizens united by the same values, a history, a destiny," he said on October 16.

graphical user interface, website: A woman holds a picture of Samuel Paty, at the Place de la Liberte in Lille on October 18. © Francois Lo Presti/AFP/Getty Images A woman holds a picture of Samuel Paty, at the Place de la Liberte in Lille on October 18. Emmanuel Macron wearing a suit and tie: French President Emmanuel Macron speaks on October 16 after Paty's death. © Abdulmonam Eassa/Pool/AFP/Getty Images French President Emmanuel Macron speaks on October 16 after Paty's death.

France pulled its ambassador from Turkey, and Arab states are boycotting French products, after Macron said he wanted to regulate Islam .
President Macron is introducing a new law in December that would give France powers to monitor and regulate mosques and Muslim communities.Samuel Paty, 47, was decapitated in northwestern Paris on October 16 after showing his class inflammatory cartoons that mocked the Prophet Muhammad. His killer, who has been identified as Chechen refugee Abdoulakh Anzorov, was shot dead by police at the scene. On Wednesday, French prosecutors charged seven people with participating in a terror attack.

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