Samuel Paty was teaching his students about free speech through use of certain cartoons which enraged a community.
In October 2020, a French teacher, Samuel Paty, became the victim of hate and terrorist attack after he showed and discussed with his class cartoons of Islam's Prophet Muhammad to his students during lessons about freedom of expression, reported Euro News.
According to anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-François Ricard, Mr Paty had been receiving threats since he showed the cartoons, as reported by BBC. It is stated that the history and georgaphy teacher advised Muslim students to leave the room if they believed they might feel offended. This was owing to the fact that depictions of Prophet Mohammed can cause serious offence to Muslims as their traditions forbids imagery depiction of Muhammad and Allah (God).
The issue became even more problematic in France because of the infamous publishing of cartoons of Prophet Muhammad by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. After this class, online hate followed Paty from Muslim parents, who were angered by the fact their children were shown these illustrations.
On October 16, according to The Guardian, the 47-year-old teacher was reportedly beheaded near his school by 18-year-old Abdullakh Anzorov who had no links to him. Mr Ricard said that the killer went to the school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine and asked students to point out the teacher. Three of the students aged 13 and 14 did, allowing the suspect to follow Mr Paty as he walked home from work. He used a knife to attack the teacher before beheading him.
The killer reportedly sent a video of himself clutching a knife and a gun shortly before the killing and messaging the teens to say, "Say prayers for me, I will go through trials today and I hope that thanks to Allah’s help I will succeed."
As per the BBC report, witnesses heard the attacker shout, "Allahu Akbar," or "God is Greatest". When confronted by the police, he fired using an airgun to which officers returned fire, hitting him nine times. A 30cm-long (12in) blade was found close by.
The 18-year-old's grandfather, his parents and 17-year-old brother were detained shortly after the attack. In addition to Anzorov's family, one of Paty's students too was taken into custody for launching an online hate campaign against the slain teacher. The cops also detained her father. But that was not all.
The crucial investigation also resulted in the arrest of Brahim Chnina, a preacher described by the French media as a radical Islamist. Soon after, the three teens who had pointed Paty out to the killer were taken into custody.
While the teens were charged with "complicity in a terrorist murder," the teen girl who started the online hate campaign against Paty was charged with "slanderous denunciation," according to Euro News. Currently, a total of 15 people have been arrested in the investigation of Paty's murder.
This incident sparked outrage which prompted the president, Emmanuel Macron, to start cracking down on Islamist extremism and violence in a country that has been the victim of jihadist attacks since 2015 which have killed more than 250 people. This move has also drawn intense criticism from those who follow Islam.
According to France24, the teacher was paid homage to by France in an emotional memorial marching ceremony while others gave tribute at the place he was slain.