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Because he had shown caricatures of Muhammad to his students, Samuel Paty met the wrath of some of their parents. Teacher at a college in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, in the Yvelines, “fully in his profession” according to those who worked with him, he was beheaded in an attack on Friday.
Aged 47, Samuel Paty, father and teacher known for his commitment to his students, was beheaded on Friday October 16 after showing caricatures of Muhammad to his eighth grade students as part of a class on freedom of speech. Some parents were upset, especially on social networks. A student’s parent [dont la fille était absente du cours de ce professeur] filed a complaint last week, and the teacher in return filed a defamation complaint.
“Apparently he was a teacher who used to talk to them about Islam, cartoons and all that, it wasn’t the first time that my son came home and said ‘the teacher spoke to us of that today ‘”, testified to AFP a parent of a student.
“When I saw ‘teacher – Bois d’Aulne – decapitation’, I made the direct link: ‘it’s Monsieur Paty'”, assures Martial, a 16-year-old high school student, who ran to the Collège du Bois d’Aulne with friends as soon as he heard the news, coming out of football training.
This high school student remembers his history-geography teacher very well from 4e in this reputedly quiet school establishment, located in the heart of a residential area which is equally so in this city of 35,000 inhabitants in the north-west of Paris. “Earlier in the year he introduced himself. He said he was coming [d’un collège] from Créteil […] and that he [était] came because his wife [s’était] transferred for his work, ”recalls the young man.
“He really wanted to teach us things”
Samuel Paty, brown hair cut short, was “short”, wore glasses, “always had a shirt,” recalls Nathan, 16, another former Bois d’Aulne. This teacher was known for his investment in his students. “He was fully in his job”, which he “liked a lot”, says Martial. “He really wanted to teach us things. From time to time, we had debates, we spoke”.
Samuel Paty was beheaded in a street near the college, around 5 p.m. The school holidays of All Saints barely sounded, the assailant, a Chechen Russian, aged 18, threw himself on him, before being, a little later, killed by the police.
According to the first elements of the investigation, the teacher had shown his students of 4e, last week, a caricature of Muhammad. A report had reached Rodrigo Arenas, co-president of the FCPE, the first association of parents of students, because of the tensions caused by his initiative with certain parents of students.
Samuel Paty embodied the Republic at its most noble: his school.
He was cowardly murdered by the enemies of freedom.
We will be united, firm and resolute: pic.twitter.com/gKtDoX4LpV
– Jean-Michel Blanquer (@jmblanquer) October 17, 2020
A complaint filed by a student’s parent
According to a source familiar with the matter, an indignant parent of a student had filed a complaint against Samuel Paty, who in return had filed a defamation complaint against him. The professor allegedly, according to Rodrigo Arenas, “invited the Muslim students [qui le souhaitaient] to leave the classroom “before showing a drawing of the crouching prophet with a star drawn on his buttocks and the inscription” a star is born “.
“It was all the years that he did this,” said Virginie, 15, who knew the teacher. “It was on the program for the EMC [enseignement moral et civique, NDLR], it was to talk about freedom from the Charlie Hebdo attack, he showed these images, the caricatures, “says the young girl, specifying that this year,” this [avait] gained momentum “.
Very saddened to learn of the assassination of a colleague in history-geography-EMC. Also shocked by discovering the drawings of his students made in April 2019 around an exhibition he had created on the values of Freedom, equality and fraternity. #SamuelPaty pic.twitter.com/ru0qBmf0qB
– Arnaud LEONARD (@Leonard_Bangkok) October 17, 2020
But what the teacher certainly did not foresee this time around was the message launched on social networks by the student’s father. In a video, he describes the teacher as a “thug” who “must no longer remain in the National Education” and invites other parents of students to mobilize. Since this “story”, Samuel Paty “was not on his plate,” Myriam, a 13-year-old schoolgirl, had observed, mimicking his scowl when he wandered the halls.
“I heard students talking ‘ah he’s racist’,” she said. Other qualifiers circulated on his account as “Islamophobic”, she slips half-word. “He did not do this to create controversy or to disrespect children or to discriminate,” said Nordine Chaouadi. Her 13-year-old son was entering his second year of classes with Samuel Paty. “He said to me, ‘he was super nice this gentleman,” said the father.