Students in France return to school for first time after Paty beheading
December 5, 2021

Students in France return to school for first time after Paty beheading

PARIS (FRANCE) – As many as 12 million students returned to schools in France on Monday for the first time after a teacher, Samuel Paty, was beheaded by an Islamist militant in a Parisian suburb for showing pupils cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammad during a class on freedom of expression.

Across the country, schools held a minute of silence in memory of Paty at 11 am and teachers reminded students of their rights and duties in a free democracy.

The gruesome incident took place on the eve of a two-week holiday in a middle-class suburb of Paris and the beheading was portrayed as an attack on French values and the republic itself by President Emmanuel Macron.

Security has been tightened after there were further attacks, including in a church in Nice and against a preacher in Lyon. Thousands of soldiers have been deployed to protect places of worship and schools.

Prime Minister Jean Castex and the education minister will pay tributes to Paty at the Le Bois d’Aulne college where he taught. The institution will remain closed until Tuesday.

The president has hailed Paty as a “quiet hero” who was bound on instilling the core French values of freedom of belief and expression in his pupils.

Paty became “the face of the Republic, of our desire to break the will of the terrorists … and to live as a community of free citizens in our country,” he said in a televised ceremony at Sorbonne university on Oct. 21.

Across the country, teachers will read out a letter penned by Jean Jaures, a 19th century political figure, mentioning their role in moulding young citizens.

“They will be citizens and they must know what a free democracy is, what rights confers on them, what duties the sovereignty of the nation imposes on them,” Jaures wrote.

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