French history teacher Samuel Paty beheaded for displaying, discussing Muhammad cartoons in class

French history teacher Samuel Paty shared caricatures of Muhammad published by Charlie Hebdo during a class on free expression; he let Muslim students step out meanwhile. Two weeks later, after controversy, Paty was beheaded near the school.

Samuel Paty
Oct 16, 2020
Accused of:
History and geography teacher at College du Bois d'Aulne
Family Members:

Samueal Paty was the father of a 5-year old boy

On the afternoon of October 16, 2020, 47-year-old French history teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded in a suburb of Paris. In a social media post shortly after the murder, the attacker, an 18-year-old Chechen refugee, posted a photograph of Samuel's severed head to social media along with a claim of responsibility for the attack. On the same day, French police shot the murderer dead.

"I have executed one of the dogs from hell who dared to put Muhammad down." - attacker's social media post

France's Education Minister said Samuel was killed for teaching students about freedom of expression. The apparent motivation for the attack was a lesson in which Samuel discussed the Charlie Hebdo with his students. As part of this lesson, he showed the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that motivated the attack on the magazine. The display of these caricatures would go on to motivate Samuel's own murder; French President Emmanuel Macron called it "an Islamist terrorist attack."

In the aftermath of the killing, reports circulated that Samuel had asked Muslim students to leave the classroom, as he did not want to offend them by showing them depictions of the Prophet. Months later, the student who originally made this claim -- the daughter of a man who undertook a social media campaign accusing Samuel of hate speech and demanding his termination -- confessed that it was untrue and she was not present that day. However, the father of another student, who defended Samuel, tells a similar story, claiming the teacher "invited" Muslim children to exit the room. What actually transpired is unclear.

"My son told me that it was just to preserve them, it was out of pure kindness, because he had to show a caricature of the prophet of Islam and simply said to the Muslim children: 'Go out, I don't want it to hurt your feelings.'" - Nordine Chaouadi, father of a student, on Samuel's words to the Muslim students

Prior to the murder, the school at which Samuel taught had received multiple threatening phone calls in connection with the aforementioned social media campaign. The outrage spread by this campaign eventually reached Samuel's killer, who was not a student of his but nevertheless tracked him down. Eleven people were arrested in connection with the murder, including the father who fanned the flames of accusation against Samuel and several members of the attacker's family.

Following the attack, large demonstrations arose around France expressing condemnation and solidarity.

Cases in France
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