January 20, 2022

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A 12 months Later, a Schoolteacher’s Beheading Nonetheless Haunts France

A Year Later, a Schoolteacher’s Beheading Still Haunts France

PARIS — Most faculties all through France noticed a minute of silence on Friday in remembrance of Samuel Paty, a trainer whose try to illustrate free speech to his college students led to his beheading a year ago by an Islamist fanatic.

As a historical past trainer, Mr. Paty was liable for instructing civics. As an instance the correct to blasphemy, free speech and freedom of conscience, he confirmed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, setting in movement a swirl of lies and rumor that resulted in his beheading.

The police investigation, it emerged in March, revealed that the lady who advised her father, Brahim Chnina, a false model of what had taken place within the class and prompted the net frenzy that led to the killing had not been within the class in any respect.

The lady advised the police that Mr. Paty had questioned all college students on their non secular allegiance, let Muslims know that they might go away as a result of “they might be shocked” after which ordered her out of the category for inflicting a ruckus whereas photographs of a unadorned Prophet had been proven. However the story was made-up; she was by no means there.

The judicial investigation is continuous, and no trial is anticipated for no less than a yr.

The killing in a northern Paris suburb has had lasting results, partly as a result of France views faculties as hallowed floor, locations the place residents are solid by studying the correct to query every thing, settle for variations, imagine in God or not, and place the values of the republic above these of their explicit ethnic or non secular id.

A front-page banner headline on Thursday within the French each day newspaper Le Monde — “Paty: A Lasting Trauma” — captured a way of shock that has not fully abated. A Samuel Paty Sq. within the Fifth Arrondissement of Paris can be inaugurated on Saturday.

That sense of shock was mirrored on Friday as Mr. Paty’s demise was commemorated throughout the nation. A bunch of imams from the Grand Mosque in Paris laid a wreath outdoors the college the place Mr. Paty had taught in Conflans-St.-Honorine.

The tensions in French society that led to the killing, nevertheless, had been evident in the truth that the Schooling Ministry gave academics the choice of holding a debate on the beheading in the event that they believed a minute of silence could be interrupted by heckling.

The killing of Mr. Paty by an 18-year-old Chechen refugee, Abdouallakh Anzorov, who was shot lifeless by the police, has intensified debate on safety and immigration, radicalized politics within the run-up to the presidential election subsequent yr and prompted intense scrutiny of the French secular mannequin referred to as laïcité.

In some methods, France is approaching a Samuel Paty election, dominated by the correct as a result of the left has discovered no reply to overwhelming considerations over safety. An opinion ballot printed in April by the Journal du Dimanche indicated that 86 % of French individuals view safety as a serious electoral concern, up from 60 % a yr earlier.

These are the fears which have prompted an rebel far-right TV pundit and polemicist, Éric Zemmour, to realize recognition along with his anti-immigrant speak, despite the fact that he’s not but a declared candidate.

David Feutry, a historical past trainer at a highschool in Dreux, about 50 miles west of Paris, stated that because the killing of Mr. Paty, he “feels a relentless mission of reminiscence, to clarify why we are able to criticize faith, why freedom of conscience is necessary and why laïcité issues.”

France is in idea a nondiscriminatory society the place the state upholds strict non secular neutrality. It’s a nation that in its now questioned universalist self-image dissolves variations of religion and ethnicity in a shared dedication to the rights and tasks of French citizenship.

That was the lay mannequin Mr. Paty tried to got down to his class, paying along with his life.

However some French Muslims and different immigrants see this supposedly colorblind blueprint for a society of liberty, fraternity and equality as not more than an train in hypocrisy that masks widespread discrimination.

Mr. Feutry acknowledged the issues in French society. Working in a city with a big Muslim inhabitants, the place the far-right Nationwide Entrance, now referred to as the Nationwide Rally, gained a few of its first electoral victories, he stated he felt a particular want to clarify to Muslim college students why, for instance, blasphemy will not be a criminal offense in France.

“We have now to acknowledge there’s a drawback,” he stated. “The republic deserted a few of these individuals. In the event that they had been dumped in separate city areas, ought to we be stunned that they turned towards their traditions and Islam?”

Understanding needed to be constructed, he recommended. He finds that speaking about his grandfather’s function on the French aspect within the Algerian conflict, and the function of his Muslim college students’ forebears within the Nationwide Liberation Entrance, may be useful by bringing out suppressed, divisive historical past.

“Paty was not a hero; he was a sufferer,” Mr. Feutry stated. “My college students want to know how harmful social media and rumor may be.”

The investigation into the killing has revealed that Mr. Chnina, by movies and Fb, unfold his daughter’s false account of what Mr. Paty had achieved. It was understandably false as a result of she was not there and made up her model. This didn’t forestall an Islamist radical, Abdelhakim Sefrioui, from making a YouTube video based mostly on Mr. Chnina’s work that named Mr. Paty’s faculty. The web storm grew — and Mr. Anzorov, the younger Chechen, alerted to it, determined to purchase a knife.

As a result of a number of minors are concerned, and since a lot of the case includes on-line invective intensified by rumor, the investigation has proved notably advanced.

Emmanuel Menetrey, a historical past trainer at a college close to Dijon, within the east of France, stated he had been struck with “stupor” on studying of the killing a yr in the past. “That to show in France might be to threat one’s life had by no means occurred to me,” he stated.

“The French individuals are strongly hooked up to their faculties, so this was a degree of rupture, for all academics and for the nation,” he stated. “Laïcité will not be the reply to every thing, and we should always pay attention to inequalities and prejudice, however it ought to nonetheless be the target we attempt to attain.”

Mr. Menetrey, in a tranquil rural faculty, noticed a minute of silence with all college students. Mr. Feutry, within the extra fraught setting of Dreux, opted to interact in a debate along with his class.

Mr. Paty, Mr. Menetrey stated, had died due to “shameless lies unfold on social media.”

A Samuel Paty modification, adopted by the Senate this yr, makes it a criminal offense punishable by three years in jail to unfold private data that places somebody’s life at risk. It handed regardless of considerations that it would pose a risk to the liberty of the press.

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