Beheading of teacher heightens debate about Islamist terrorism and freedom of speech

Conflans-Saint-Honorine is a spot like many others. Within the outer suburbs of Paris, this can be a delightful however unremarkable grid of houses and facilities. 

And but now, it reveals itself on the very center of the French nationwide debate after a actually horrific homicide on its streets.

Samuel Paty, 47, a well-respected trainer, was once attacked and beheaded as he walked alongside the road at 5pm. His killer, elderly simply 18, was once then shot useless by means of police as he walked alongside a neighbouring street.

Mr Paty is understood to be a 47-year-old history teacher
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Mr Paty had held a lecture room dialogue over the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad earlier than his demise
Police officers secure the area near the scene of a stabbing attack in the Paris suburb of Conflans St Honorine, France, October 16, 2020
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Cops pictured on the scene of the stabbing on Friday night

Inside of hours, President Emmanuel Macron was once at the scene, visiting the college the place Mr Paty taught historical past and geography.

Macron typically loves to ship lengthy, impassioned speeches, however right here his cope with was once briefer and extra restrained. He regarded shocked however known as for team spirit, whilst describing the homicide as an act of “Islamist terror”. The training minister, Jean-Michael Blanquer, described the killing as an assault at the French Republic.

On the faculty the place Mr Paty taught, there was once an extended line of lecturers, folks and scholars on Saturday, coming to pay respects, laying plant life and leaving notes. The varsity, which was once ringed by means of a line of French CRS revolt police, additionally equipped mental reinforce for the ones suffering from what had took place.

Some carried indicators pronouncing “Je Suis Enseignant” (I’m a trainer) in tribute to Mr Paty. On-line, the an identical expression “Je Suis Prof” was once being extensively shared.

The have an effect on of this upon the college group can be nice. However it is usually affecting France, a rustic that has struggled vastly to deal with the consequences of Islamist terrorism lately.

It’s 5 years since gunmen broke into the places of work of the satirical mag Charlie Hebdo and killed 12 folks. Extra died within the following days, the precursor to a wave of terrorist assaults throughout France that killed loads.

In Paris, the trial is now below manner of women and men accused of being accomplices in the ones first assaults. Because the trial began, Charlie Hebdo republished cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad as an workout in unfastened speech.

Others known as it inflammatory, even reckless. Now not lengthy after, the mag’s present head of human assets was once moved out of her house on police recommendation.

Final month, a person attacked two folks out of doors the previous places of work of Charlie Hebdo; each suffered severe however no longer life-threatening accidents. And the entire whilst, the trial continues.

Now, this homicide will heighten once more the query of Islamist terrorism, and its reasons. It sort of feels somewhat transparent that there’s a hyperlink between the killing of the instructor, and Mr Paty’s choice to release a lecture room dialogue over the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

A teacher stands with a placard reading 'I am a teacher, I defend the freedom of speech, I fight for our work conditions and against all kind of racism' near the entrance of a middle school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 30kms northwest of Paris, on October 17, 2020, after a teacher was decapitated by an attacker who has been shot dead by policemen
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‘I’m a trainer, I protect the liberty of speech, I struggle for our paintings prerequisites and in opposition to all more or less racism’
Flowers have been placed at the entrance of a middle school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 30kms northwest of Paris, on October 17, 2020, after a teacher was decapitated by an attacker who has been shot dead by policemen
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Vegetation were left out of doors Mr Paty’s faculty

So what to do? In a rustic that places the sort of price on unfastened speech and secular executive, the proper to insult is entrenched. However the fury sparked by means of those cartoons has now price many lives, and heightened tensions dangerously.

Into this predicament walked the native mayor, Laurent Brosse. He was once born and bred on this the city.

“I wish to inform the locals that we will be able to get better,” he mentioned. “We can all upward thrust in combination. We can upward thrust once more due to our spirit of unity which makes the individuality of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine.

“It’s by means of debating, exchanging reviews and listening that we will triumph over this dramatic take a look at.”

However there was numerous speaking in France over fresh years looking for a solution, to determine how you can maintain the basic tenets of French society whilst additionally stemming the upward thrust of Islamist terrorism.

Judging by means of this horrific assault, the puzzle has no longer been solved.

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