Schools in France reopen for first time since teacher killed
Schools in France reopened Monday following the end of a two-week holiday, the first day students have returned to class since the killing of a French teacher in a suspected Islamist terrorist attack last month.
The Associated Press and Reuters reported that students and faculty held a moment of silence for Samuel Paty, a middle school teacher who was killed in mid-October by an 18-year-old Russian refugee of Chechen descent in an attack in which his attacker, who was later killed by police, beheaded him.
The attack, along with two others in recent weeks across France, is thought to be retaliation for Paty’s decision to display cartoons of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, including one in which the prophet appeared to be naked, during lessons in his classroom about the right to free speech. The cartoons are being examined in French courts as part of a previous investigation into the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack.
“The idea of terrorism is to create hatred,” French president Emmanuel Macron told children returning to school as part of a message released on social media, according to Reuters. “We will pull through this together.”
“Samuel Paty taught each child of the Republic to become a free citizen. For him, for our country, we will continue. It is our honor and our duty,” added Prime Minister Jean Castex.
Ici, Samuel Paty apprenait à chaque enfant de la République à devenir un citoyen libre.
Pour lui, pour notre pays, nous continuerons.
C’est notre honneur et notre devoir. pic.twitter.com/QXnneELe55
— Jean Castex (@JeanCASTEX) November 2, 2020
Protests have erupted against France’s government and Macron in particular over his defense of Paty in recent weeks, while Turkey’s government has openly accused French officials of persecuting Muslims.
“Never give credit to French-labelled goods, don’t buy them,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a speech in Ankara last month.
“European leaders must say ‘stop’ to Macron and his campaign of hatred,” he added.