The beheading of high-school teacher Samuel Paty in Paris last Friday by an 18-year-old Islamic radical has shocked the nation of France into action. Police quickly rounded up almost a dozen people connected to the killer, Abdullakh Anzorov, who was shot dead by police. The Interior Minister promised to shut down several Islamic groups that he said were enemies of the state.
One of the questions that hadn’t been answered until now is what Anzorov’s connection was to the victim. Given his age it seemed possible that he was a student in the classroom who was personally offended by Paty’s decision to show students the Charlie Hebdo cartoons as part of a lesson on free expression. But it turns out that’s not the case. Anzorov heard about the case on social media. A parent of one of the kids in Paty’s class made a video mentioning the teacher’s name and the school’s address. And those complaints were amplified by a second man who was the leader of an extremist group named for a founder of Hamas.
The father of a student and the head of an Islamist pro-Hamas group urged the killing of a French teacher who was beheaded for showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, France’s interior minister said Monday, adding that police had carried out dozens of raids in connection with the attack.
“They apparently launched a fatwa against the teacher,” minister Gerald Darmanin told Europe 1 radio of the two men, who are among 11 people being held over the deadly attack by a young Chechen man.
One of the men was named as Abdelhakim Sefrioui, president of the “Cheikh Yassine collective.” Sheikh Ahmad Yassin was a founder of the Hamas terror group. He was killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip in 2004…
The parent had named Paty and given the school’s address in a social media post just days before the assault.
In addition, a local mosque led by a Salafist Imam also amplified the social media post listing the school’s address. That mosque has now been closed for the next six months.
The Grand Mosque of Pantin had shared a video on its Facebook page days before the murder, denouncing the teacher’s use of the cartoons…
The video posted by the mosque was filmed by the father of one of Paty’s pupils. In it, he calls Paty a thug and accuses the teacher of singling out Muslim students.
The mosque’s imam, M’hammed Henniche, told the AFP news agency that he regretted sharing the video on social media, but that he had done so out of concern for Muslim children, not to endorse its complaint about the Muhammad cartoons.
The attention the story got online caught the attention of Anzorov who went shopping with two other men who are now in custody. They helped him purchase an airsoft gun and the knife used in the attack.
Finally, last Friday Anzorov showed up outside the school but he had never seen Samuel Paty’s face before. So he offered students money to point him out and two teenagers offered to help:
Prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old are among seven people who appeared before an investigating magistrate on accusations of “complicity in murder in relation with a terrorist undertaking” and “criminal conspiracy.”
The suspect in Friday’s slaying of teacher Samuel Paty, who was attacked and beheaded near Paris, offered students at the school where Paty taught 300-350 euros ($355-$415) to help him pick out the educator, Richard said during a news conference.
“The investigation has established that the perpetrator knew the name of the teacher, the name of the school and its address, yet he did not have the means to identify him,” the prosecutor said. “That identification has only been possible with the help of students from the same school.”
“That’s why the anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office has decided to prosecute two under-18 minors whose implication in the identification of the victim for the killer has appeared to be conclusive,” he said.
The students may not have known Anzorov planned to kill Paty. He allegedly told them he was going to “humiliate and strike” him and force him to apologize for showing the cartoons. So maybe they thought he was only going to assault Paty or maybe they didn’t care. In any case, Anzorov couldn’t have carried out the attack without their help.
Between the outraged father who gave out Paty’s name and location, the mosque and the extremist who amplified that and the two teens who identified him leaving school that day, this was murder as a group project. Anzorov is dead but everyone who set him on his path deserves to be punished for their involvement.
President Macron will be giving a eulogy for Paty today.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) October 21, 2020
Meanwhile, the NY Times published a piece Monday which gives space to critics who think maybe Paty was wrong to show his students the cartoons.
“I feel like it’s very hard to use these cartoons for strictly educational purposes,” said Farhad Khosrokhavar, a sociologist at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, EHESS, in Paris.
“Secularists think that it is their right, because of the law that allows blasphemy and any form of mockery of religion. But on the other hand, there is the feeling that in doing so, it is the Muslims who are despised, not the prophet,” he said.
“By using cartoons to teach freedom of expression, we do not understand that we offend people,” Mr. Khosrokhavar said. “There are a thousand ways to express freedom of expression, so why choose this one?”
Françoise Lorcerie, an education expert at the National Center for Scientific Research, said she had never heard of using the caricatures of the prophet in a classroom setting for students of that age. And she was critical of Mr. Paty’s invitation to Muslim students that they leave the class to avoid being offended.
“Obviously these caricatures are wounding for Muslims,” said Ms. Lorcerie. “I’m not so sure about presenting these caricatures, without some sort of justification,” she said.
It’s amazing how dumb some educated adults can be. Farhad Khosrokhavar’s argument boils down to this: There are lots of ways to show express free expression so why not pick the ones that won’t offend anyone? Well, maybe that’s because the whole point of free expression is that it isn’t restricted to things that don’t offend people. And maybe it’s because there’s a trial going on right now in Paris for 14 people involved in a 2015 massacre over these exact cartoons, so this is very timely.
There’s a fundamental question that is once again before the French people right now: Should people be murdered over cartoons of religious figures? Samuel Paty said no and showed his class the cartoons. Abdullakh Anzorov said yes and beheaded Paty in broad daylight.
And the NY Times gives space to people who say it’s a tough question with very fine people on both sides.
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