Thousands of French citizens rallied across France on Sunday in a resistant show of solidarity with a teacher beheaded after explaining the Prophet Mohammed’s cartoons.
Protests in Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Nantes, Marseille, Lille, and Bordeaux drew thousands of France citizens. They were demonstrating in support of the independence of speech and solidarity with the country’s educators.
The demonstrations in France
Demonstrators on the Place de la Republique in Paris held aloft posters declaring their protests.
The posters read quotes like “No to the totalitarianism of thought” and “I am a teacher.” These are in remembrance of the beheaded victim Samuel Paty.
Some also chorused, “I am Samuel,” echoing the “I am Charlie” cry that traveled worldwide.
Consequently, the later protests are after the Islamist gunmen killed 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in 2015.
These killings were for publishing cartoons of the Islamic prophet.
Also, between bursts of applause, others chanted, “Freedom of expression, freedom to teach.”
Paty’s assassination has shaken the country. It also brought back recollections of a wave of Islamist violence in 2015 that commenced with the Charlie Hebdo slaughter.
Rally in strength by people of France
Those crimes saw some 1.5 million people meet on the Place de la Republique to encourage freedom of expression.
Ahead of Sunday’s meeting, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer declared on everyone to assist the teachers. The crowd also told broadcaster France 2 that it was crucial to show solidarity and unity.
Prime Minister Jean Castex and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo were also amongst those present at the Paris event.
“I am here, right now, as a teacher, as a mother. Even as a Frenchwoman and as a republican,” said Virginie, one of those assembled.
The online terror before the physical one
On Saturday, Jean-Francois Ricard, an anti-terror prosecutor, said Paty had been the victim of online threats. This event was before his death for explaining the cartoons to his civics class.
Allegedly, depictions of the prophet are a taboo in Islam. The police obtained a teacher’s photo and a message admitting to his crime on his killer’s mobile phone.
It was 18-year-old Chechen Abdullakh Anzorov, who was killed by police. Witnesses said the suspect was recognized at the school on Friday, asking students where he could locate Paty.
The mobilization of the teacher
One of the schoolgirl’s fathers had begun an online call for “mobilization” against the teacher and tried his school dismissal.
The girl’s father and a distinguished Islamist militant are among those imprisoned, along with four members of Anzorov’s family.
Consequently, the authorities took the 11th person into custody on Sunday, a judicial source said, without providing details.
The aggrieved father had also named Paty and gave the school’s address in a social media post just days before the beheading.
Conclusively, President Emmanuel Macron has marked this as an Islamist terror attack.
Image courtesy of zefart/Shutterstock