The family of murdered history and geography professor Samuel Paty, beheaded by an 18-year-old Chechen refugee a year ago, will unveil a plaque in his memory at the Ministry of Education on Saturday, summon President Emmanuel Macron and assist the inauguration of the square that bears his name in front of the Sorbonne.
France has suffered 21 jihadist attacks since January 2015. 18 other attacks have been foiled. Although many have claimed more lives, the country remains deeply shocked by the beheading of Paty, the 47-year-old father of a five-year-old boy.
Demoralized teachers say they exercise self-censorship and receive insufficient support from the administration. Some have criticized the government for not having set a specific time for a minute of silence and for making the commemoration of Paty’s murder optional in French schools on Friday.
Public figures such as the philosopher Elisabeth Badinter are calling for a strengthening of secularism or secularism imposed by the State. Polls show that young people are more tolerant of religious symbolism and expressions of belief, a phenomenon attributed to the “awakening culture” imported from the United States.
The series of events culminating in the murder of Paty and the shooting death of his assassin, Abdouallakh Anzorov, by police began on October 5, 2020, when Paty showed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad at a civic education class. on tolerance and secularism. The teacher said Muslim students might find the cartoons offensive and were free to leave the classroom or hide their faces.
A 14-year-old Muslim girl, identified in the press as Z Chnina, had been suspended from the Bois-d’Aulne college in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, for absenteeism and disruptive behavior. To distract from her punishment, she lied to her father, Brahim Chnina, claiming that Paty ordered the Muslim students to leave.
The angry dad posted a video on social media in which he named Paty and the school. He also contacted Abdelhakim Sefrioui, who is on a government watch list for his support for the Palestinian party Hamas. Sefrioui also made a video denouncing what was wrongly perceived as discrimination against Muslims.
In June, investigators found the missing link between the videos and Anzorav, a 33-year-old French convert to Islam identified as Priscilla M, married to an Islamist serving a prison sentence for instigating a foiled attack in Marseille. She said her Twitter account, “Sweet Scar” (Sweet Scar) alluded to the pain of her husband’s imprisonment and the sweetness of their relationship.
Anzorav’s immigrant family in Normandy were so alarmed by his radicalization that they checked his phone while he slept at night to find out which websites he was visiting and who his contacts were. But they did not inform the authorities.
Priscilla M posted the video of Chnina on her Twitter account, where she was seen by Anzorav. He sent her a message asking if Paty had been punished for his treatment of Muslim students. No, she replied on October 13. âThings are very clear. . . They really want to eradicate faith from the hearts of the people â. Anzorav agreed and replied, “They will not succeed, if they only know.”
After stabbing and beheading Paty, Anzorav sent Priscilla M his claim of responsibility, in which he said: “I executed a hellhound”, with a photo of his head severed. She immediately shut down her Twitter account.
A year later, Chnina and Sefrioui are in prison, accused of being complicit in Paty’s murder. Chnina told the examining magistrate that he regretted posting Paty’s name and the school’s location on the internet. He said his life had lost all meaning. âI did something really stupid. I have only me to blame. I am responsible for everything.
Buy a knife
Prosecutions have been brought against Priscilla M and 13 other people indicted for “complicity in a terrorist act” or for “association with terrorist criminals”. Among them, a Chechen and a Franco-Tunisian who went with Anzorov to buy a knife and two BB guns that fire pellets, one of which was found in Paty’s body. The Franco-Tunisian led Anzorov from Normandy to the school in the Yvelines department west of Paris.
Five students are among those under investigation. Anzorav promised them $ 300 if they reported Paty when he left school after class.
Paty’s sister, GaÃ«lle, a former teacher who now runs a bookstore, gave this week the first interview with a member of the family, to the newspaper La Croix. She said Paty told their mother, a retired teacher, that he was “not sure how to present it” in her civics class. âHe was looking for the best way to make his students think. ”
Gaelle Paty said she wouldn’t have shown the cartoons “because I’m not very brave. I wouldn’t have dared risk a head-on confrontation with some of the students. Samuel did it because he was a purist.