– He was a teacher who invested in his students and who did the job properly. He really wanted to teach us things and sometimes we had debates. This is what 16-year-old Martial says to the French radio station RTL. She is standing outside the school where Paty was her teacher in 4th grade.
The 47-year-old teacher taught history at the Bois d’Aulne secondary school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, one of the northern suburbs of Paris. On Friday, he was assaulted and beheaded near his school.
Must have shown the drawings every year
On October 5, freedom of expression was on the schedule. When they talked about the attack on Charlie Hebdo, Paty showed the students the controversial Muhammad cartoons. It made several of the students’ parents react. Many Muslims consider it a blasphemy to show a description of the Prophet.
15-year-old Virginie tells RTL that Paty had the same teaching plan every year when freedom of speech was to be discussed. From the school’s side, it is stated that he used to say that the Muslim students who wanted it could leave the room before the drawings were produced. He did not want to offend the students, it is said.
– It was to discuss freedom in connection with the attack on Charlie Hebdo, when he showed the cartoons, but this year it became too strong, says Virginie.
In the days that followed, several conversations were started online where angry people demanded that Paty’s teaching had to get a reaction.
Will dissolve organizations
Interior Minister Gerard Darmanin says an investigation has been launched into 80 different online chat groups where it is believed that hate crimes have been discussed. He is also looking at whether the authorities should step in and dissolve Muslim groups suspected of promoting violence and hatred.
– Police operations are already underway and more are coming, he said on radio Europe1 on Monday morning.
– A man of dialogue
– He was a brilliant student, a super teacher and a man of dialogue, writes one of Samuel Paty’s student friends on Twitter.
Several of the former students that the TV channel BFM has spoken to tell about a calm and quiet teacher who was friendly and smiling.
– He did not like conflicts. He did not like to scream. He asked the students to come and talk to him, if something was wrong, says a young girl.
Samuel Paty had moved to the area a couple of years ago, says one of the neighbors to Europe1. There he lived with his wife and their five-year-old son.
– He had a sense of humor and liked to make the students laugh, says Nadine who had a son in the class of the killed 47-year-old.
Threats and reviews
After the cartoons were shown, the father of one of the students demanded that Samuel Paty be fired. He allegedly accused Paty of spreading “pornography” and the school received threats. Both the student and the father reported the teacher, who in turn accused them of defamation.
A few days before the murder, his father identified Paty and posted the school’s address on social media. Earlier this week, he also posted a video in which he claimed that Islam and the Prophet had been offended at school.
Encouraged to kill
“Both the father of a student at the school and a well-known militant Islamist called for murder,” said Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin. The famous Islamist is Abdelhakim Sefrioui. A man who has been kept under surveillance by the security authorities. He is a 61-year-old Moroccan-French activist who, among other things, has published videos in which he called Paty a thug.
The two are now among the 11 who were arrested after the murder.
“They apparently issued a fatwa against the teacher,” Darmanin said.
A fatwa is a form of religious guidance, which usually comes from religious scholars. Fatwas often refer to everyday situations where doubts about religious behavior may arise.
In some circles, however, fatwas are often associated with a death sentence on a person who has committed a sinful act. Then the fatwa can give any person the right to take the life of the person, in the same way as one could become outlawed in pre-Christian times in Norway.
Believes teachers put ties on
Teacher and representative of the teachers’ organizations UNSA, Rémy Sirvent, says that freedom of expression is a topic many teachers approach with extreme caution.
– When we did a survey in 2018, we discovered that many censored themselves when they taught this subject, he says to France Info.
He says it is important that this is not each individual school or teacher who will decide how the teaching should be set up. Sirvent also reminds that it is important to teach the student the difference between knowledge and belief.
Many teachers are now advocating a standardized teaching program that will be used throughout the country when freedom of expression is on the timetable.