France cries out together for freedom of expression

France paid tribute this Sunday to Samuel Paty, the secondary school teacher beheaded on Friday by an Islamist terrorist in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 50 kilometers from Paris. He was murdered for teaching his students the controversial cartoons of Muhammad, published by the satirical magazine ‘Charlie Hebdo’, in a class on freedom of expression.

Tens of thousands of French people gathered in different parts of the country to remember this fallen hero of the Republic. «I am a teacher», «I am Samuel», read some banners in the Republic Square of the capital, crowded, despite the covid-19 pandemic and many Parisians were out for the autumn school holidays.

The slogan was reminiscent of the “I am Charlie” that toured France and the world in January 2015 in solidarity with the victims of the attack on ‘Charlie Hebdo’ and in defense of freedom of expression. These attacks were the starting point of a wave of jihadist blows in the Gallic country that seems to have no end.

«They don’t scare us. We are not afraid. They will not divide us. We are France! ”Prime Minister Jean Castex wrote on Twitter, who attended the Parisian demonstration, along with the mayor, Anne Hidalgo, and other politicians of different ideologies. Coinciding with the mobilization, the president, Emmanuel Macron, convened a Defense Council to analyze the Islamist threat in the country.

From Paris to Marseille, passing through Lille, Lyon, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Nantes or Bordeaux, the French wanted to show their support for teachers and come out in defense of freedom of expression and secular public school, two days after this horrifying crime that has shocked France.

A minute’s silence was observed in the capital in memory of the murdered teacher and immediately afterwards ‘La Marsellesa’ was sung, the national anthem. The applause also resounded on several occasions in the Plaza de la República. Many of the Parisians showed ‘Charlie Hebdo’ covers or drawings and recalled that in France there is a long tradition of making cartoons of all religions, not just Islam.

Teacher complaint

Camille, a high school Philosophy teacher for 20 years, was one of many who participated in the concentration. He does not want to give his last name or be photographed because he is afraid of becoming the target of “malicious people”, as happened to Paty, pointed out by the father of a student on social networks. Report that public school teachers are “looked down upon by society, poorly paid by the state, abandoned by the hierarchy and killed by Islamists. ‘

«We are hussars (teachers) of the Republic, we are Samuel Paty. We will continue to cultivate freedom of expression in our students ”, said the banner of Christophe, director of a public primary school. He explains that for years it has become increasingly difficult to talk about freedom of expression to students. «The messages of freedom, equality and fraternity are not necessarily heard by everyone. It is a minority, but a minority that hurts the majority, “says Christophe, who assures that the country’s teachers feel” a bit abandoned “and would like to have more support from the government and society.

For many French people present at the event in Paris, like Djémila Boulasha, “the school is a sacred place, where we learn to be citizens.” «With dialogue we learn to have a critical spirit. To behead that is to behead freedom and the emancipation of individuals, “adds Djemila, who displayed on his banner in French and Spanish the title of an engraving by the painter Francisco de Goya:” The dream of reason produces monsters. ”

Macron defended at the beginning of September “the freedom to blaspheme in France”, after the controversy caused by the decision of ‘Charlie Hebdo’ to republish the Muhammad cartoons coinciding with the start of the trial of the January 2015 attacks against him. weekly.

«We are in France, not in Kabul“Exclaimed Nelly Dechristy, who presented herself as a committed artist. “If today we cannot teach freely and train citizens, it is very serious,” added Celine, a teacher at a three-year-old nursery school. “France is and will be being the country of Enlightenment,” she warned, still shocked by the beheading of one of her colleagues when leaving class.

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