French Tutors swear to teach ‘critical lessons’ after a teacher was beheaded

A man holds a Charlie Hebdo cover during a demonstration in Rennes on October 17, 2020, one day after a teacher was beheaded by an attacker in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 30kms northwest of Paris. - (Photo by Damien MEYER / AFP)

Shocked French teachers vowed to continue encouraging their pupils’ “critical spirit” by raising contested subjects after an Islamic terrorist beheaded a secondary school teacher who showed his students caricatures of the Prophet as part of a freedom of speech discussion.

Representatives of teaching unions met the education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer and the prime minister Jean Castex on Saturday, hours after the death of 47-year-old history and geography teacher Samuel Paty.

Before the meeting Jean-Remi Girard, president of the secondary school teaching union, said teachers were “devastated” but would not be cowed. We will try to encourage our students’ critical spirit and explain that everyone has the right to disagree.”

Rallies were expected in cities across France on Sunday in a show of solidarity and defiance, with Blanquer telling France 2: “It is absolutely important to show our mobilisation and our solidarity, our national cohesion.”

He called on everyone to support the teachers. Police were questioning his parents, grandfather and 17-year-old brother and yesterday detained another five including the father of a pupil at the school and an acquaintance of his known to the intelligence services.

The father of one school pupil published a video on YouTube calling the teacher a “thug” who needed to “go back to school himself” and calling on parents to join him in demanding that the teacher face disciplinary action.

The teacher had gone to the local police station, with the school head, earlier this month after a legal complaint about his lesson.

The teacher lived near the school and was used to walking through a wood to get home, but had recently decided to change his route to walk through a residential area because he felt threatened.

By News Agencies