Last Friday a French teacher named Samuel Paty was beheaded in the street by an 18-year-old Islamic radical who was subsequently shot and killed by police. Authorities believe Paty was murdered because he had showed his class the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Muhammad as part of a lesson on free expression. Sunday there were mass demonstrations across France in support of the teacher and the values he represented:
French Prime Minister Jean Castex stood with citizens, associations and unions demonstrating Sunday on the Place de la Republique in Paris in support of freedom of speech and in memory of the 47-year-old slain teacher.
Some held placards reading “I am Samuel” that echoed the “I am Charlie” rallying cry after the 2015 attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. A moment’s silence was observed across the square, broken by applause and a rousing rendition of La Marseillaise, the French national anthem.
Demonstrators also gathered in major cities including Lyon, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Nantes, Marseille, Lille and Bordeaux.
This image above shows the scale of the demonstration in Paris. In addition to the strong reaction from the populace, there is also some significant police action taking place today:
Already, 11 people have been arrested, including family members of the suspect, an 18-year-old Chechen refugee named Abdullakh Anzorov, who was shot dead by the police Friday night after the killing. Also in custody is the father of a student at the school who had denounced Mr. Paty online for showing the caricatures, and demanded his dismissal. The video circulated widely and may have been seen by the killer.
The interior minister also announced on Monday the expulsion of 231 foreign citizens identified for their radicalism, including 180 who were already in prison. Those not imprisoned would soon be arrested, officials said.
Interior Minister Gerald Darminin is also taking aim at dozens of Muslim aid organizations including one, the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), that compiles lists of anti-Muslim hate crimes in France. Today Darminin labeled that group and another one “enemies of the Republic”: “I am going to propose the dissolution of CCIF and BarakaCity, associations which are enemies of the Republic. We must stop being naive and face the truth: there is no possible accommodation with radical Islamism. Any compromise is a compromise.”
Je vais proposer la dissolution du CCIF et de BarakaCity, des associations ennemies de la République.
Il faut arrêter d’être naïfs et voir la vérité en face : il n’y a aucun accommodement possible avec l’islamisme radical. Tout compromis est une compromission. #Europe1
— Gérald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) October 19, 2020
The Financial Times has more on what Darmanin said:
Gérald Darmanin, interior minister, said on Monday he would propose a ban on several organisations deemed “separatist” for seeking to bypass the secular institutions of the French republic, including the Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), and a humanitarian aid group called BarakaCity.
“You can see how political Islam combines with radical Islam and so eventually leads to terrorism,” Mr Darmanin said on Europe 1 radio. “We must fight political Islam with the same determination as we fight terrorism.” He said 51 organisations would be inspected by the state this week.
Mr Macron, who had already announced tighter controls on Islamist radicals in a speech at the start of the month, is now under pressure from politicians from left to right to take an even harder line against militants.
President Trump expressed support for France and for President Macron on Saturday:
“On behalf of the United States, I’d like to extend my really sincere condolences to a friend of mine, President (Emmanuel) Macron of France, where they just yesterday had a vicious, vicious Islamic terrorist attack — beheading an innocent teacher near Paris,” he said. “France is having a hard time and Macron’s a great guy.”
All of this is happening as a trial of people involved in the Charlie Hebdo killings in 2015 is ongoing. In fact, the trial was why Samuel Paty was doing a lesson using the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.