Loud applause from Samuel Paty – tens of thousands of people in Paris and many other French cities have shown their solidarity with the slain teacher. Protesters stressed the importance of freedom of speech.
In France, tens of thousands of people remembered history teacher Samuel Paty, who was killed in an Islamist attack. At 3 p.m., people applauded in Place de la République for a few minutes to remember the 47-year-old man. Despite the corona pandemic, there was a dense crowd in the square. The highest level of warning against the corona applies in the French capital, gathering more than 1,000 people is in fact banned – according to media reports, the rally was nevertheless approved.
“I’m here to defend freedom of speech and freedom of teaching,” said Muriel, 61. She is a teacher and a citizen. She brought a sign saying, “Je suis enseignant.e” (translated: “I am a teacher”). Like many others, she recalled the slogan “Je suis Charlie”, which originated five years after the terrorist attack on the editorial board of the satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo”. The magazine joined the call for performances.
“No to totalitarian thinking” were other signs. Some waved the French flag and began singing the national anthem. Several participants carried posters with Mohammed’s cartoons from “Charlie Hebdo,” which have been controversial for years and are hostile to Islamists.
Prime Minister and Mayor of Paris
“You will not divide us,” said French Prime Minister Jean Castex during a rally in Paris. Also present were the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo and the President of the Ile-de-France region Valérie Pécresse.
Parties, associations and unions in Paris and other cities called for demonstrations for freedom of expression.
Thousands in Lyon, Marseille and Nice
People also gathered in many other cities in the country. Authorities say there were about 6,000 protesters in Lyon and about 300 people took to the streets of Nice. Meetings were also held in Toulouse, Marseille and Bordeaux. A national memorial service in honor of the victim was announced on Wednesday.
Heels was murdered on Friday near his school in the Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. Investigators believe that the history and geography teacher was killed because he showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in the classroom on freedom of speech and belief. He is said to have given students of the Muslim faith the opportunity to view pictures. Investigators classify the act as a terrorist attack motivated by Islamists.
The 18-year-old attacker was shot dead by police. Eleven people were taken into police custody by Sunday morning in connection with the attack. Among those arrested are people close to the perpetrator and people who have aroused the mood against the teacher.