Paris, 16 October 2022
Today, a meeting on Samuel Paty Square, facing the Sorbonne University, commemorated the events of 16 October 2020, when history and geography teacher, Samuel Paty, was assassinated and beheaded in a small town near Paris by a lone-wolf Jihadist of Chechen-Russian origin, incited by an islamist Imam, reportedly because he had shown, among others, caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed to his students during classes on the subject of “freedom of expression”.
See related Wiesenthal Centre press release:
Recent threats of Islamist violence loomed over the commemoration, as well as attempts by extremists of the far-left as of the far-right to appropriate the narrative for their own political agendas.
Among the speeches, a French high-school teacher witnessed the daily challenge of her colleagues against Islamist propaganda and incitement, as well as the mission of educators to foster creativity and freedom of expression within the parameters of tolerance.
The appeal of an anonymous Tunisian teacher was read out, to help extend to all Muslim countries of the Middle East and North African region the universal values summarized in the word “laïcité” – the French concept of secularism where freedom of thought intersects freedom of religion, quelling extremism by highlighting the basic need for mutual respect.
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s work against antisemitism and other forms of intolerance was widely acknowledged by the participants, who expressed an urgency in cooperating on other initiatives.
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