France Raids Homes, Detains Students in Teacher's Slaying

Samuel Paty had shown Muhammad caricatures in class
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2020 5:25 PM CDT
Raids, Arrests Follow Anger in France Over Teacher's Slaying
People gather on Republique Square, one with a poster reading "I am Samuel" Sunday in Paris, two days after a teacher was slain near his school.   (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

French police raided dozens of homes Monday in a search for suspected radicals and took more people into custody in the slaying of a teacher who had shown cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in class. The raids go beyond the investigation of the slaying of Samuel Paty, 47. The teacher was beheaded outside his school in a Paris suburb Friday, police said; his killer was shot to death by officers nearby. Authorities know of no connection between the victim and his killer, an 18-year-old Chechen who was living about 60 miles from the school in Normandy, the BBC reports. Paty had shown the cartoons during a civics lesson on freedom of expression related to the trial underway over the 2015 slayings of 12 people in the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, per NPR. The satirical magazine had published Muhammad cartoons, which many Muslims consider blasphemous. Paty told the class that Muslim students could leave the room if they were concerned about being offended by the cartoons.

Fifteen people are in custody, including four students, four relatives of the attacker, and a father of a student at the school. One theory is the students pointed out Paty to his killer. The anti-terrorism prosecutor said the killer went to the Conflans-Sainte-Honorine school Friday afternoon and asked students who Paty was, then followed the teacher as he began to walk home. A father of student at the school began an online campaign against Paty after he showed the cartoons. An Islamist activist also was arrested. France's interior ministers Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said the two of them "obviously launched a Fatwa"—an Islamic religious ruling—against Paty. Officials said that they're investigating 51 French Muslim associations and that they'll be shut down if found to be promoting hatred. Anger was running high in the nation, per the New York Times. "This situation calls for a strategy of reconquest," said far-right leader Marine Le Pen. "Islamism is a bellicose ideology whose means of conquest is terrorism." (Thousands took to the streets to defend free speech and honor Paty.)

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