Conflans-Sainte-Honorine is generally a sleepy suburb of Paris. Since last Friday (October 16), however, there has been a swarm of activity around the Bois d’Aulne high school. Police and gendarmes keep watch, international media are reporting live and in the midst of it all – the grieving residents.
“It’s incredibly dramatic. My grandchildren are students at school and my daughter is a teacher, so it’s a shock for all of us, ”says Marie-Noëlle Nicolas, who came with her husband Patrick to honor the murdered teacher, Samuel Paty. .
History and geography teacher Paty left school on Friday to take a fall break. Instead, he was greeted by an 18-year-old who stabbed and killed him, ultimately beheading him.
Shortly after, a photo of the horror was posted on social media with a macabre message: “To Macron, the leader of the infidels, now I have executed one of your hellhounds. ”
Police then shot dead the teenage aggressor – a young Chechen man born in Moscow and living in Evreux, about 100 km away. He had come to Conflans-Sainte-Honorine for the sole purpose of killing Paty.
Weeks earlier, Paty had shown his students caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in a civics class on free speech – the same cartoons for which satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and Danish daily Jyllands-Posten had previously been attacked. .
Paty reportedly let the students choose whether or not they wanted to see the cartoons, however.
A girl in her class told her father about the lesson, claiming that Paty asked the Muslim students to leave the class. Her father took the complaint to the head teacher’s office and then to social media – where some Muslim groups demanded the professor’s dismissal.
The radical Islamist activist Abdelhakim Sefrioui – listed by the French security services – has become particularly active in the case. He recorded a video with the girl’s father in front of the school. As a result, several death threats were made to the teacher in the days leading up to the murder.
Police have since arrested at least 15 people on suspicion of aiding or abetting the murder – including the girl’s father, Abdelhakim Sefrioui, and some of the perpetrator’s family.
The school, as an institution, is considered to be the very heart of the French Republic. Gatherings have been organized permanently in squares across France to honor both Paty, the teaching profession, freedom of expression and French secularism.
“You don’t scare us. You will not divide us, ”tweeted Prime Minister Jean Castex.
Many French Muslims took part in the rallies – although some express fears about their own future in the country.
“We are also shocked and in mourning, we are French like everyone else,” said Hadia Ahmad, immediately after participating in a minute’s silence in the small town of Poissy.
She fears this will lead to “another hunt for Muslims”
Imams and other French Muslim leaders also came to Conflans Sainte Honorine to pay homage to him.
On Monday, October 19, the Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin, presented the first responses from the government: 231 foreign nationals registered on the surveillance list of the security services will be expelled. Of this number, 180 are currently in prison, the other 51 are said to be “arrested in the next few hours”
The Great Mosque of Pantin, in the northern suburbs of Paris, will be temporarily closed for the sharing of the video on the teacher.
80 other cases have been opened against people suspected of inciting hatred, around 50 associations will be investigated and two major Muslim NGOs will be banned – if the Minister of the Interior is successful: Baraka City – a humanitarian organization with activities in the Middle East and Africa, and the Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF).
“We must not be naive towards the enemies of the republic”, tweeted the minister.
The CCIF collects evidence of Islamophobic discrimination and offers legal aid to those who consider themselves victims. Over the years, many – including former interior ministers – have accused the NGO of being associated with the Muslim Brotherhood and leading a “campaign of Islamization”.
The student’s father reportedly urged people on social media to “call CCIF”.
The NGO, however, denies sharing a video against the teacher, and no evidence has emerged to show that they did.
Darmanin, in response, says he has “information” on the CCIF that justifies such a ban.
“They call the republic” Islamophobic “but receive state subsidies. A certain number of different elements suggest that they are the enemies of the Republic, ”the minister told France Inter.
The European Network Against Racism issued a statement in defense of the CCIF, arguing that the proposal reflects institutional racism within the French government.
EUobserver contacted CCIF President Jawad Bashare by phone.
“France is an oppressive state which has gradually adopted the discourse of the extreme right. The CCIF rejects violence and works legally – so they chose to call it “legal jihad”. They don’t know how to deal with heinous terrorist crimes, so they label innocent Muslims as “Islamists” just so they can say they are doing something, ”Bashare says.
Tuesday, October 20, President Emmanuel Macron promised “actions” against “Islamic extremism”
“Our fellow citizens are waiting for action. These actions will intensify. We know what to do, ”he told reporters on a visit to a suburb.
He announced the dismantling of the pro-Hamas collective Cheikh Yassine, founded by Abdelhakim Sefrioui, now arrested, and a crackdown on “radical activities online”.
A student from the Bois d’Aulne school, who gave her name of Mrs. Douglas, came with her grandfather to honor his teacher. She wipes the tears from her eyes.
“It’s so horrible, I can’t believe it. He only did his job. It is more important than ever to fight terrorism together, ”she told EUobserver.