French President Emmanuel Macron paid his respects tonight at the coffin of a teacher who was beheaded near Paris last week.
History teacher Samuel Paty was decapitated for having shown cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a civics class discussion on free speech early this month.
He became the subject of an online hate campaign over his choice of lesson material – the same images which unleashed a bloody assault by Islamist gunmen on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo five years ago.
Paty was killed on his way home from work after school last Friday by 18-year-old Chechnya-born Abdullakh Anzorov, who published an image of the teacher’s severed head on Twitter before he was himself shot dead by police.
At the memorial service at The Sorbonne tonight, Macron vowed that France ‘will not give up cartoons.’
French President Emmanuel Macron watches the coffin of slain teacher Samuel Paty being carried in the courtyard of the Sorbonne university during a national memorial event, in Paris, France today
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers his speech in front of the coffin of slain teacher Samuel Paty during a national memorial event, in Paris, France today
French President Emmanuel Macron, center, pays his respects in front of the coffin of slain teacher Samuel Paty in the courtyard of the Sorbonne university during a national memorial event, Wednesday, tonight in Paris
The president said Paty was slain by ‘cowards’ for representing the secular, democratic values of the French Republic.
Paty’s coffin stood in the centre of the university courtyard, adorned with French flags, as pupils, a friend, and a fellow history teacher paid moving tributes to the 47-year-old father of one.
The ceremony started with the song ‘One’ by Irish rock band U2 played over loudspeakers at the Paty family’s request, and ended with applause.
Macron said Paty was killed ‘because he incarnated the Republic.’
The president added: ‘He was killed because Islamists want our future,’ while vowing ‘they will never have it.’
At the event, Macron gave the country’s highest civilian award, the Legion of Honour, to Paty, who was attacked on his way home from the junior high school where he taught in the suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine outside Paris.
Paty was killed on his way home from work after school last Friday by 18-year-old Chechnya-born Abdullakh Anzorov, who published an image of the teacher’s severed head on Twitter before he was himself shot dead by police
Tributes were held elsewhere in France tonight, with the President of the Occitanie region Carole Delga organising the six front covers discussed by Paty in his classroom be projected on to the facade of two hotels.
The cartoons, which are being shown on the front of the Hotel de Region in Toulouse and Montpelier, will be broadcast for 10 seconds each on a loop for four hours.
The projections, which started at 5pm and end at 9pm, finish with an image of Paty and the French flag.
In an interview with actuToulouse, Delga said: ‘There must be no weakness in the face of the enemies of democracy, in the face of those who reveal religion to transform it into a weapon of war, in the face of those who unite, by calculation or renouncement, with those who have the political objective to destroy the Republic.’
Tributes were held elsewhere in France tonight, with the President of the Occitanie region Carole Delga organising the six front covers discussed by Paty in his classroom be projected on to the facade of the Hotel de Region in Montpelier and Toulouse
People wearing French tricolour sashes gather to watch the cartoons being projected on to the Hotel de Region in Toulouse
Anti-terror authorities announced today that France will prosecute seven people over last week’s beheading, including two teenagers accused of pointing him out to his killer.
Anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said the children – aged 14 and 15 – were in a group who shared 300-350 euros (£270-£315) offered by the killer to help find the teacher.
The two stayed with the killer, Anzorov, for more than two hours waiting for the 47-year-old father of one.
Paty was targeted for having shown cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a civics class discussion on free speech early this month.
The prosecutor said the two accused youngsters had stayed with Anzorov even after he told them he wanted to ‘humiliate and strike’ Paty over the Muhammad caricatures, seen as offensive by many Muslims.
Anzorov decapitated Paty with a knife and tweeted an image of the teacher’s severed head on Twitter before he was shot dead by police. Many of Paty’s pupils saw the disturbing image online.
The two teenagers are among seven people who will face prosecution for ‘conspiracy to commit a terrorist murder’, said Ricard.
French police officers were seen standing guard and holding firearms at the end of the street where Anzorov was shot dead after refusing to surrender
The others include the father of one of Paty’s pupils, who started the social media campaign against the teacher even though his daughter was not in class when the cartoons were shown, said the prosecutor.
The father had exchanged messages with Anzorov via WhatsApp in the days leading up to the murder.
A fourth suspect is a known Islamist radical who helped the father in his campaign.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has accused the two men of having issued a ‘fatwa’ against Paty.
Three of Anzorov’s friends complete the suspect list, one of whom allegedly drove him to the scene of the crime while another accompanied him to purchase a weapon.
Police have carried out dozens of raids since the crime, while the government has ordered the six-month closure of a mosque outside Paris and dissolved the Sheikh Yassin Collective, a group they said supported Hamas.
The Palestinian militant group said on Wednesday it had ‘no links’ with the French organisation founded by Abdelhakim Sefrioui – the Islamist radical in custody over Paty’s murder.
The French government has earmarked for dissolution more than 50 other organisations it accuses of having links to radical Islam.
‘Our fellow citizens expect actions,’ Macron said on Tuesday.
Paty’s beheading was the second knife attack in the name of avenging the Prophet Muhammad since the Charlie Hebdo trial started last month.
The killing has prompted an outpouring of emotion and solidarity in France, with tens of thousands taking part in rallies countrywide over the weekend.
Thousands more took part in a silent march in the teacher’s honour in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine on Tuesday.
France’s sports ministry said on Wednesday that participants in all professional sporting events this weekend – football, basketball, handball, rugby and ice hockey and volleyball – would observe a pre-match minute of silence for Paty, and wear black armbands for matches scheduled for next week.