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French Teacher’s Lesson on Charlie Hebdo Fueled Social Media Dispute

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PARIS—Days ahead of Samuel Paty was beheaded in an attack that stunned France, the 47-yr-previous historical past teacher was guiding his class by way of a fraught debate above the limitations of totally free speech.

The teacher—who was interviewed by French authorities about the lesson before his death—said he had warned learners in the class to avert their eyes in advance of he shown cartoons from Charlie Hebdo, the satirical journal qualified in a bloody terror assault in 2015.

“He reported he had taken treatment, right before showing some of these drawings, to propose his students look absent in the party they may be offended,” explained Jean-François Ricard, France’s antiterrorism prosecutor.

The lesson, even so, angered a guardian at the college, who posted videos on social media, directing invective at Mr. Paty for sharing a depiction of Muhammad with the class and demanding his dismissal, Mr. Ricard mentioned. French investigators are now seeking to identify how the polemic spilled on to social media and no matter whether that publicity played a function in Mr. Paty’s killing.

French officers say his attacker—identified as Abdoullakh Abouyezidvitch A., an 18-yr-previous Russian nationwide of Chechen origin—lurked outside the house the faculty on Friday afternoon inquiring pupils to establish Mr. Paty. He killed him soon immediately after classes ended, leaving his physique in the street, officers stated. Mr. Ricard said the suspect then claimed duty for the attack in a message sent on his Twitter account, which reported Mr. Paty experienced abased the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. Police shot him lifeless minutes afterwards.

Police have detained at minimum 9 individuals for questioning in relationship with the attack, which includes 4 household users of the suspect and the parent who posted the video clips.

The assault unfolded towards a backdrop of climbing tensions amongst France’s Muslim neighborhood, amid Europe’s biggest, and a political establishment determined to preserve the country’s extensive-working custom of rigorous secularism.

Folks gathered on Saturday outdoors a school in the Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine.



Image:

bertrand guay/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

These two worlds collide in the classroom, where by France has imposed a ban on Muslim headscarves and other religious symbols. France will organize a national homage to Mr. Paty in coordination with his family members Wednesday, in accordance to an aide to French President Emmanuel Macron.

“It’s an assault against the Republic since university is the backbone of the Republic,” French Schooling Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer reported.

Mr. Macron’s authorities has a short while ago moved to outlaw what he referred to as “Islamic separatism” in communities where by he reported religious rules are having precedence over civil ones. Mr. Macron explained the regulation, if passed, would empower authorities to shut down associations and faculties that he reported indoctrinate youngsters, and keep an eye on international investment in spiritual corporations in France.

The proposed regulation aims to stem what many French take into consideration the continuous erosion of the values of the French republic. Charlie Hebdo’s inclination to depict religious figures in bawdy cartoons designed it a symbol of independence of expression. It also made the journal a goal for Islamic Point out militants who massacred the publication’s newsroom in January 2015 in advance of dying in a shootout with police times afterwards.

In September, France opened a trial of the attack’s alleged accomplices immediately after a yearslong investigation into the assault and another attack that occurred times later on a Kosher grocery retail outlet. As the demo commenced, Charlie Hebdo republished the cartoons that induced the 2015 assault, saying the cartoons served as “evidence.” Times later on, a Pakistani immigrant wielding a butcher knife attacked and critically wounded two men and women outside Charlie Hebdo’s former office environment.

It was in this cauldron of social and religious turmoil that Mr. Paty well prepared to give his lesson in early October. As section of that eighth-quality lesson on the “contours and restrictions of totally free speech,” Mr. Ricard explained Mr. Paty experienced organized a discussion around Charlie Hebdo’s publication of caricatures of Muhammad.

According to a copy of the lesson plan described by Mr. Ricard, Mr. Paty confirmed the course two cartoons. A person depicted a guy on his fingers and knees, with his genitals exposed and a star masking portion of his bottom. The cartoon’s caption browse: “Muhammad, a star is born,” Mr. Ricard explained.

A father or mother at the university was incensed, and on Oct. 7 recorded the very first of three movies and numerous social media postings inciting other individuals to protest and request Mr. Paty’s firing, Mr. Ricard mentioned. The father or mother, whose name hasn’t been released, is the father whose daughter attends the university, and is now in custody for questioning similar to the assault, Mr. Ricard explained. The man’s half sister joined Islamic Point out in Syria in 2014, and is even now sought by authorities, Mr. Ricard reported.

In the to start with online video, which was seen by The Wall Road Journal, the father calls Mr. Paty a “thug.” The teacher, he claims, had requested Muslim students in the course to elevate their arms and then directed them to depart the classroom ahead of showing his daughter and the remaining college students an image of a bare male that he explained the teacher determined as Prophet Muhammad.

In the online video the father stated his daughter was suspended for two days for refusing to leave the home, but Mr. Ricard explained the principal experienced attributed her suspension not to the caricatures but to her actions and tardiness. Attempts to get to the university have been unsuccessful in excess of the weekend.

The father termed on individuals observing the movie who “want to stand jointly and say, ‘Stop, never contact our kids,’” to mail him text messages. A phone to the quantity he presented in the online video went to an automatic recording saying the mailbox was entire.

People held a indicator that reads ‘I am a teacher’ on Saturday in front of a school in the Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine.



Photograph:

bertrand guay/Agence France-Presse/Getty Photographs

Rodrigo Arenas, co-president of one particular of France’s nationwide federations of dad or mum-trainer associations, stated he was alerted to the video clip two times later on, simply because it was spreading promptly on social media. Problems poured in from all-around the state. “When we listened to this information and facts in the early morning we considered it was phony information,” Mr. Arenas stated. “True or not, it was heading viral.”

On Oct. 8, the father showed up at school with another guy to complain to the principal, Mr. Ricard explained. The principal “tried in vain to relaxed matters down while the two guys virulently demanded the firing of the teacher,” Mr. Ricard explained. He added that the second gentleman, who he mentioned was regarded to French intelligence solutions, is in custody for questioning, alongside with his associate.

That identical night, the father posted a next video to social media, in which he gave Mr. Paty’s name and the handle of the college, according to Mr. Ricard, and incited his contacts “to say, ‘Stop!’”

The father afterwards went to the regional law enforcement station together with his daughter to file a complaint for the “distribution of pornographic visuals,” Mr. Ricard mentioned.

For the duration of an Oct. 10 job interview with law enforcement, Mr. Paty strongly denied inquiring Muslim pupils to recognize by themselves and depart the area, Mr. Ricard said, telling police he only suggested pupils could possibly want to look absent from some pictures. Upon finding out of the father’s online video, Mr. Paty also filed his individual complaint for defamation, Mr. Ricard reported.

Two days later on, the father revealed another online video on social media, Mr. Ricard mentioned. In it the daughter repeats her tale. The other gentleman who accompanied the father to the university also appears, declaring President Macron has “stirred up hatred” from Muslims and threatening to mount protests if the teacher is not fired, in accordance to Mr. Ricard.

Mr. Arenas, of the federation of guardian-teacher associations, mentioned that after the online video, he rapidly educated the mayor of the town to put together for a protest that was probably staying structured in entrance of the college. The mayor purchased a law enforcement depth stationed in front of the college, and the protest did not take place, Mr. Arenas claimed. Mr. Ricard stated the faculty also obtained threats.

The principal arrived at out to parents, and met with some to calm the scenario, but the father refused to meet with the teacher, Mr. Ricard reported.

On Friday, Abdoullakh Abouyezidvitch A. approached pupils outside the house the college to ask them to discover Mr. Paty, Mr. Ricard said. Born in Moscow, the Russian lived in France legally as a refugee and was identified to police only for petty crimes as a small, Mr. Ricard explained. He lived in a city in Normandy, a lot more than 40 miles away from the scene of the crime.

Neighborhood law enforcement uncovered Mr. Paty’s overall body decapitated, with knife wounds to both the head and torso, close to the college and en route to the teacher’s close by property, Mr. Ricard explained.

Publish to Sam Schechner at sam.schechner@wsj.com and Stacy Meichtry at stacy.meichtry@wsj.com

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