Pupils in schools across France on Friday paid tribute to Samuel Paty, a year after the teacher was beheaded by an extremist for showing his class cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed.
Paty’s violent death sent shockwaves through France and beyond, and was seen as an attack on the core values drilled by teachers into generations of schoolchildren, including the separation of church and state and the right to blaspheme.
The 47-year-old was killed after leaving the middle school where he taught history and geography in the tranquil Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine on the evening of October 16, 2020.
His killer, 18-year-old Chechen refugee Abdullakh Anzorov, claimed the attack as revenge for Paty showing his class the drawings in a lesson on free speech.
The government encouraged all French schools to commemorate the murder with a minute of silence, debates or the screening of documentaries on the freedom of speech.
“We will not forget Samuel Paty,” Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said Friday during a visit to a Paris high school.
“By naming rooms, schools, and other establishments after him, and by holding ceremonies like this one, we show those who would terrorise us and who would use fear to fight freedom, that we will use freedom to fight fear,” he said.