France pays tribute to murdered schoolteacher Samuel Paty

Tributes - including a rally in the capital on Sunday - are being paid to teacher Samuel Paty this weekend across France, to mark the first anniversary of his murder.

Teacher Samuel Paty was murdered in a terror attack
Teacher Samuel Paty was murdered in a terror attack. Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP

Paty, 47, was killed on October 16th 2020 as he left the collège where he taught in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine in the greater Paris département of Yvelines.

READ ALSO Four school pupils charged over the beheading of French teacher

His killer, 18-year-old Chechen refugee Abdullakh Anzorov, claimed the attack was revenge for Paty showing his class cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a lesson on free speech.

Paty’s violent death sent shockwaves through the country 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.

Samuel Paty Square will be inaugurated in front of the Hôtel de Cluny, opposite the Sorbonne in Paris, on Saturday morning. Paris City Hall has decided to rename the square Paul-Painlevé, in homage to the teacher and in the presence of his family. The ceremony will be closed to the public, but the square will reopen on Sunday at 9am.

At around the same time as the Paris event, a ceremony will take place in Paty’s hometown of Éragny (Val-d’Oise). A fresco created by a street artist will be unveiled at the Butte sports hall.

Some 300 people are expected to take part in a tribute at the Bois-d’Aulne collège, Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, at 2.30pm on Saturday, attended by Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer. 

READ ALSO Why has France become so devoted to Prophet Mohammed cartoons and where will it end?

An hour later, a monument will be unveiled at Place de la Liberté in Conflans, and visitors will be able to leave messages on a ‘wall of expression’ created for the occasion. 

“It is essential to pay tribute to Samuel Paty and the values he defended through his teaching, not only to perpetuate his memory and never forget, but also to remind us of our unwavering attachment to our values and to freedom of expression,” town mayor Laurent Brosse, said.

Later, President Emmanuel Macron will receive members of Paty’s family at the Elysée Palace on Saturday afternoon.

READ ALSO Macron says he can ‘understand’ if Muslims are shocked by Muhammed cartoons

The rally “for freedom and against terror” at 3pm on Sunday at the Place de la République, in the capital, has been organised by teachers’ unions, associations and the editorial staff of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo – whose controversial cartoons Paty had shown his class.

The Ministry of Education also asked all schools in France to pay tribute to the teacher of history and geography on Friday. An hour of class time was devoted to discussions on the theme of freedom of expression and critical thinking, and the period ended with a minute’s silence.

Paty’s old school was due to hold a ceremony on Friday, at which a wall of freedom of expression, built by pupils in the past week was to be unveiled. A ceremony was also planned at the new Samuel Paty school in Valenton (Val-de-Marne), on Friday, where an exhibition showing the work of students on the twin tenets of fraternity and secularism was to open.

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French police seize 2.4 tonnes of cannabis near Bordeaux

France’s Economy Minister has praised the work of Bordeaux law officers, after they seized more than 2.4 tonnes of cannabis resin with an estimated street value in excess of €19 million.

French police seize 2.4 tonnes of cannabis near Bordeaux

Bruno Le Maire and Minister Delegate in charge of Public Accounts Gabriel Attal in a joint statement: “Once again, Customs distinguished itself with an exceptional seizure of cannabis, recalling its key role in the fight against drug trafficking. We congratulate the customs officers for their daily commitment to the protection of our fellow citizens.”

Two people were taken into custody after officers stopped a lorry from Spain on the A63, near the Saugnac-et-Muret toll area, just south of Bordeaux, on Monday.

According to Le Figaro, the drugs were hidden in side compartments of the lorry, and concealed by its stated load of wheat, and were discovered by a sniffer dog during the stop.

In total, 2,414.8kg of cannabis resin and 9.75kg of cannabis herb were intercepted by the Bordeaux brigade, with an estimated value of more than €19 million on the illicit market.

Since the end of July, 2022, Customs officials have seized nearly 73 tonnes of drugs, including 41.2 tonnes of cannabis.

The French drugs squad is now investigating to determine the point of origin of the drugs, as well as their destination and the crime network behind the smuggling attempt.