Slain teacher martyr for Freedom of Expression: French Imam

Hassen Chalghoumi, Imam of a Parisian mosque was paying homage to a teacher who was beheaded for showing a picture of Prophet Mohammed last week


A week after 47-year-old Samuel Paty was brutally killed in the Parisian suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, Hassen Chalghoumi, who is the Imam of the Drancy’s mosque in suburban Paris urged Muslims in France to honour the slain teacher for teaching “tolerance, about civilisation and the respect of others.”

Chalghoumi said that Paty was “a martyr for freedom of expression, and a wise man who has taught tolerance, civilisation and respect for others.” He added, “We need to end the victimisation discourse. We all have rights in France, like everyone else. Parents should tell their children about the good that exists in the Republic,” reported Wion News.

In wake of the brutal killing, Paris police have conducted over 40 raids so far and 15 people, including four of Paty’s pupils (two of them minors aged 14 and 15 years) and a parent of a pupil, have been detained so far. His alleged killer 18-year-old Abdullakh Anzorov was gunned down by police. Anzorov had allegedly paid the two minors to identify Paty.

Seven people have been charged, six with complicity in a terrorist attack and one with a lesser charge for being in close contact with the killer. A man identified as Brahim C (parent of a pupil) and Abdelhakim Sefrioui, have been accused of launching a hate campaign against Paty and circulating videos demanding his suspension.

While a rally took place to memorialise Paty on Tuesday in his hometown, President Emanuel Macron hailed Paty as “a quiet hero” and “the face of the Republic” at an event in Paris on Wednesday reports BBC World. President Macron also presented the teacher’s family with the nation’s highest honour, the Légion d’honneur.

The killing of Paty brings memories of the Charlie Hebdo attack where 12 staffers of the magazine were killed by Islamic extremists in 2015 for publishing a cartoon of the Prophet. Paty had also shown a cartoon of the Prophet, but had requested Muslim students to step out of the classroom as a mark of respect as creating images of the Prophet is forbidden in Islam.

Imam Chalghoumi’s call for greater tolerance therefore offers hope to more moderate Muslims who are navigating a cultural divide in Europe, embracing modern values even as they preserve traditional ones.


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