France honours beheaded teacher, govt launches crackdown against radical groups

France honours beheaded teacher, govt launches crackdown against radical groups

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday led a national tribute to the school teacher who was beheaded after showing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in class as part of a lesson on free speech, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Samuel Paty was posthumously granted France’s highest award, the Legion d’Honneur, and commemorated in the national ceremony at the Sorbonne University in Paris.
Speaking during the ceremony, President Macron called Paty “the face of the Republic,” eulogising a man whose “apartment was a library” and whose “greatest gifts were books.”

“We all have, in our hearts, in our memories, a teacher who changed the course of our existence,” Macron said. “You know, this teacher who taught us to read, to count, to have confidence in ourselves. This teacher who not only passed on knowledge to us but opened a path for us,” Washington Post quoted Macron as saying.

“Samuel Paty was one of those,” he said, “one of those teachers who will not be forgotten, of these enthusiasts capable of spending nights learning history, a teacher who questioned himself a thousand times, as he did for a course on freedom of expression and freedom of conscience that he had been preparing since July,” he added.

Last week, history teacher Paty was beheaded by an 18-year-old teenager on the outskirts of Paris after he showed cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad during a lesson. This apparently prompted outrage among some Muslim parents. The killer, a French citizen of Chechen descent, was subsequently shot dead by police.

The government has ordered the dissolution of the Sheikh Yassin Islamist association, whose founder, Abdelhakim Sefrioui, is currently in custody as a suspect in the case of the brutal killing of a history teacher in Paris, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday. An inquiry is still underway, with Sefrioui and six other suspects being probed on various related charges.

Shutting down groups spreading ideas linked to radical Islam is part of an urgent effort declared by Macron to fight the spread of religious radicalism in France. The government also ordered a mosque in the Paris suburb of Pantin to close for six months for having shared on Facebook a video calling for action against Paty. The mosque deleted the video and expressed regret.

“There’s no room for violence in our religion,” the Pantin mosque said Monday in a Facebook statement. (ANI)