A 13-year-old student who accused Professor Samuel Paty, beheaded in France in October last year, of Islamophobia, admitted to telling lies about the case and was not even present the day he reported. showed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to students during a class on free speech.
The confession came at a hearing in which the teenager was charged with “defamatory denunciation” in November, just over a month after an 18-year-old Chechen murdered the teacher, but was only noted in a report published on Sunday (7). by the French press.
According to the newspaper Le Parisien, the young girl made up a story to justify a two-day suspension that she received at school for exceeding her absenteeism limit. In the student’s initial version, the teacher allegedly asked the Muslim students to leave the room before showing the class “a photograph of the naked prophet”.
The young woman told her father that she had quarreled with the teacher over this attitude and that it would have motivated her suspension, but according to the testimony of other students, what happened in the class that day – that was different from the report.
Paty, who has taught history and geography classes, offered the students a discussion on dilemmas and free speech. The central theme of the debate at the time was ‘to be or not to be Charlie’, a reference to the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie used to express support for the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, the target of a 2015 terrorist attack that killed 12 people. .
According to witnesses, the professor informed his Muslim students that some of the images he would show could be offensive to his beliefs. Paty would then have asked them to close their eyes or to feel free to leave the room, if they had preferred. The girl was not present.
“She would not have dared to admit to her father the real reasons for her suspension shortly before the tragedy, which was in fact linked to her bad behavior”, indicates the Le Parisien report.
The father of the student, a Muslim of Moroccan origin, was indignant when he heard the version told by his daughter and shared two videos on Facebook calling for the teacher’s resignation and accusing him of discrimination.
The man also filed a complaint with the police, alleging that Paty was guilty of “disseminating a pornographic image”, which also led to charges of Islamophobia against the school.
The case had repercussions on social media and caught the attention of Abdullakh Anzorov, an 18-year-old Chechen immigrant living in Normandy. Ten days after Paty’s class, Anzorov traveled to Conflans Sainte-Honorine, a suburb of Paris, and offered money to two teenagers to identify who the teacher was.
He then waited for the teacher to leave school on a Friday night and beheaded Paty. Anzorov was killed by French police hours after the attack and his crime was labeled an act of Islamic terrorism.
The case led to the opening of investigations against dozens of activists of Muslim origin and revived discussions on Islamophobia in France, in particular generating diplomatic crises for the government of President Emmanuel Macron.
The girl kept her twisted version until several classmates denied it. According to investigators, she suffers from an “inferiority complex” and is extremely devoted to her father.
Her lawyer, Mbeko Tabula, insisted in an interview with Le Parisien that the weight of the tragedy should not rest on the shoulders of a 13-year-old girl.
“It was the father’s excessive behavior, making and posting a video incriminating the teacher, that led to this spiral. My client lied, but even if she had told the truth, her father’s reaction would still have been disproportionate, ”he said.
The father told police he was a “stupid idiot” and now faces criminal charges for “aiding and abetting terrorist murder”. He and an Islamic activist who helped him share the videos are in pre-trial detention.
“I never thought my messages would be seen by terrorists. I didn’t want to hurt anyone with this message,” the girl’s father said. “It’s hard to imagine how we got to this point where we lost a history teacher and everyone is blaming me.”
Samuel Paty’s case was instrumental in the passage of a law by the French National Assembly last month which, in practice, contains the advance of Islam in the country – for the government, a question of national unity.
The legislation does not highlight any specific religion, but provides for tougher measures against issues ranging from forced marriages and virginity testing to promoting violent acts on the internet and educating children outside of mainstream schools – some Muslim families enroll their children in Islamic institutions considered clandestine.
In addition, the law establishes tighter control over religious associations and their finances, which critics of the bill say limits freedom of worship in France. “It is an extremely strong secular offensive. It is a hard text, but it is necessary for the Republic”, declared the French Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin, defending the proposal.
Despite the vague approval – 347 votes in favor, 151 against and 65 abstentions – the law displeased some politicians on the left as well as those on the right. The former see the project as an attack that further stigmatizes Muslims living in France, while the more radical of the second group, like the ultra-right Marine Le Pen, consider it too weak.
The legislation has yet to be passed by the Senate in the coming months and represents one of Macron’s latest major initiatives in the face of the presidential elections scheduled for next year.