France paid homage Wednesday to Samuel Paty, a history teacher who was decapitated last week by an extremist in a suburb of the capital.
The service at Sorbonne University in Paris was attended by President Emmanuel Macron, ministers and a number of politicians as well as the Paty’s family.
Speaking at the official memorial, Macron said Paty has become the face of the fight for freedom and he will not be forgotten.
Macron also said Paty had been reading the Muslim holy book the Quran and that he was interested in Islamic civilization.
Stressing that they will continue to support freedom of expression, Macron said France “will not give up the cartoons,” referring to controversial caricatures depicting the Prophet Muhammad that were republished last month by the French satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo.
A trial is currently under way over the murder of 12 people by extremists at the magazine’s offices in 2015 following their original publication.
Paty, a 47-year-old father who taught history and geography at Bois-d’Aulne College in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, was brutally murdered by Abdullakh Anzorov, an 18-year-old man of Chechen origin. The suspect was gunned down by police.
The teacher, during one of his classes on freedom of expression, had shown the controversial cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad, according to the reports.
Muslim leaders across France have condemned the murder, stressing that extremists abuse religion for their goals and their actions cannot be justified through Islam.
Community leaders also expressed their concern that the recent attack would again stigmatize French Muslims and inflame Islamophobic sentiments.
The murder has given rise to a renewed police crackdown, with Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin launching 34 police operations, 80 investigations and taking dozens of people into custody.
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