FRANCE – Teacher attack: civil society’s reaction in defence of freedom of expression and education

Protesters march across France in tribute to Samuel Paty

Thousands of demonstrators have rallied across France in tribute to a history teacher beheaded near Paris after discussing caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Mohammed with his class.

Samuel Paty was beheaded on Friday local time in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine by an 18-year-old Moscow-born Chechen refugee who was shot dead by police.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex stood with citizens, associations and unions demonstrating on the Place de la Republique in Paris in support of freedom of speech and in memory of the 47-year-old slain teacher.

Some held placards reading “I am Samuel” that echoed the “I am Charlie” rallying cry after the 2015 attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which published caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.

A moment’s silence was observed across the square, broken by applause and a rousing rendition of La Marseillaise, the French national anthem.

Demonstrators also gathered in major cities including Lyon, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Nantes, Marseille, Lille and Bordeaux.

Article originally published at ABC.

The horror of obscurantism, by LDH

This unbearable crime aimed to strike at the right to caricature, freedom of expression, secularism. In the face of obscurantism and terrorism, unity is our strength, as is the mobilisation of all to defend and reaffirm our fundamental values of democracy, freedom and equality.

The League for Human Rights (LDH) expresses its solidarity with his family, loved ones and all the staff of the National Education system.

Press release published by LDH.

Education sector react, by La Ligue de l’Enseignement 

Shocked by the terrible attack on a teacher, the Ligue de l’Enseignement (Education League) denounces a barbaric Islamic act that affects us all. The activists of the Teaching League share the pain of this teacher’s family, his relatives and colleagues. This teacher did his job by transmitting to his pupils the values of the Republic, through the training of a critical mind and the understanding of what freedom of expression is. No one can challenge, let alone refuse, a teaching that is an integral part of the curricula of the school of the Republic. It is the nation as a whole that must show solidarity with the entire teaching community so that such acts cannot happen again.

Press release published by La Ligue de l’Enseignement.

Let us, more than ever, make education a wall against obscurantism!, by CAPE

In the face of terrorism, after mourning, stupor and pain must give way to a broad movement of mobilisation so that, foot to foot, we can defend our common good: the Republic and its school.

It is our entire society that was attacked yesterday through the freedom to teach and freely debate all subjects, particularly at school. As in 2015 and 2016, let us not fall into the trap set, let us not sink into the climate of fear hoped for by the enemies of democracy.

This new escalation in horror and ignominy requires every citizen to dare to show his or her attachment to republican values, first and foremost Secularism, Fraternity and Solidarity, and to affirm his or her attachment to secular and republican schools and to freedom of expression.

The CAPE (Collective of Public School Partner Associations) will pursue, with determination and renewed vigour, the fight for a shared and common emancipatory education, an essential bulwark against all obscurantism. It calls on all educators, teachers, facilitators, social workers, committed to a supportive and secular society to engage in actions which, in the weeks and months to come, will affirm the attachment of our fellow citizens to the freedoms of teaching and expression, to the values of the Republic.

Press release published by collective CAPE.