French Student Lied About Murdered Teacher
A French schoolgirl has admitted to spreading false claims about a teacher before he
was murdered last year. Samuel Paty was beheaded in October after showing
students cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The girl, whose complaints sparked
an online campaign against Paty, has now admitted that she was not in the class.
Mr Paty’s killing stunned France and led to an outpouring of support at memorial
ceremonies and marches around the country. The 13-year-old girl, who has not
been officially named, originally told her father that Paty had asked Muslim students
to leave the classroom while he showed the cartoon during a class on free speech and blasphemy.
French Student Lied About Murdered Teacher – According to evidence given
by the girl seen by French media she said:
“I didn’t see the cartoons, it was a girl in my class who showed me them.”
“She lied because she felt trapped in a spiral because her classmates had asked her
to be a spokesperson,” her lawyer, Mbeko Tabula, told AFP news agency.
The girl’s father filed a legal complaint against the teacher and began a
social media campaign over the incident based on his daughter’s account.
He identified Paty and the school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, west of Paris.
The perpetrator, 18-year-old Abdullakh Anzorov, was shot dead by police shortly after the attack.
It then emerged that the campaign against the history and geography teacher
had been based on a distorted account of what had happened in class days earlier.
As he had done in similar lessons on free speech in previous years, Paty warned
students that he was about to show a depiction of Muhammad.
He said anyone who thought they might be offended could close their eyes.
The girl had originally claimed the teacher had asked Muslim pupils to leave the room.
When she objected she was suspended from school, she said.
It now appears that the girl was suspended the day before the class was given,
according to Le Parisien newspaper, because of repeated absence from school.
The girl explains in her leaked testimony that she made up the story
so as not to disappoint her father. He posted two videos on social media
in response to the allegations. Speaking on French radio on Tuesday,
the Paty family’s lawyer said the girl’s family knew that she had not
been in class on the day in question and why she had been suspended.
“So to come and say now, sorry, I believed my daughter’s lies, that’s really weak,”
Virginie Le Roy told RTL radio. In a separate development, two university professors
have been given police protection after they were accused of Islam phobia by student protesters.
An investigation has begun after posters were put up last week at Sciences Po university in
Grenoble that read “Fascists in our lecture halls, Islam phobia kills”, naming the two professors.
Junior Interior Minister Marlène Schiappa said their lives were in danger and the campaign was
reminiscent of the harassment of Samuel Paty. “We can’t tolerate this kind of thing,” she said.
After Paty’s murder, President Emmanuel Macron presented the teacher’s family with
the nation’s highest honour, the Légion d’honneur.
Depictions of the Prophet Muhammad are widely regarded as taboo in Islam,
and are considered highly offensive by Muslims.
The issue is particularly sensitive in France because of the decision by
satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to publish cartoons of the Prophet.
Twelve people were killed by Islamist extremists at the magazine’s
offices in 2015 after the images were published.
Both the Charlie Hebdo murders and Samuel Paty’s beheading struck a
deep chord in a country where secularism – or laïcité – is central to national identity.
Under that principle, the state cannot intervene in matters of religion,
and thus should not curb expression to protect the feelings of a particular community.