Thousands of people stand high to protest against the beheading of a teacher for showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
Demonstrators on the Place de la Republique held aloft posters declaring: “No to the totalitarianism of thought” and “I am a teacher”. “You do not scare us. We are not afraid. You will not divide us. We are France!” tweeted Prime Minister Jean Castex, who was among those gathered at the historic protest spot.
Castex was accompanied by Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo and junior interior minister Marlene Schiappa who said she was there “in support of teachers, of secularism, of freedom of expression”.
Some in the crowd chanted “I am Samuel”, echoing the “I am Charlie” cry that traveled around the world after Islamist gunmen killed 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in 2015 for publishing caricatures of the Islamic prophet.
Abouyezidovitch approached students outside the school, located in the Parisian suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, asking them to point out Paty before attacking the teacher on his way home, Ricard said. Abouyezidovitch, who was not known to intelligence services, lived in Évreux, more than an hour’s drive from the scene of the attack, the prosecutor said. It was unclear if Abouyezidovitch had attended Collège du Bois d’Alene.
Paty had organized a lesson around the Charlie Hebdo caricatures, Ricard said. Nordine Chaouadi, a parent of one of the pupils at the school, told Agence France-Presse that Paty took measures to avoid offending the Muslim youngsters in his class.
“It was just to preserve them. It was out of pure kindness because he had to show a caricature of the prophet of Islam and simply said to the Muslim children: ‘Go out, I don’t want it to hurt your feelings.’ That’s what my son told me,” he said.