France lived a return to school on Monday under tension due to the terrorist threat and the health crisis after two weeks of school holidays. The government has strengthened security around schools and places of worship throughout the country in recent days, after the public school and the Catholic Church were hit by Islamist terrorism. The return to school was also marked by the health crisis. France has kept schools and institutes open despite confinement due to the coronavirus, but with a strengthened health protocol compared to September. The use of a mask is now mandatory for all students over six years of age, instead of 11 years as it was before the holidays.
All the schools and institutes of France paid tribute, on this first day of class, to Samuel Paty, the teacher who was beheaded on October 16 in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine (outside Paris). Paty, a geography and history teacher at a secondary school, was assassinated by an Islamist terrorist for having shown his students the controversial cartoons of Muhammad during a lesson on freedom of expression. The attack, which took place on the last day of classes before the fall school holidays, shocked France by hitting one of the pillars of the Republic: the public school. The murderer, who was killed by the police shortly after the crime, was not his student but was in contact with students at the center.
The country, on high alert, has strengthened security around schools and places of worship
The small ceremony in memory of Paty began at 11 am. Twelve million students observed a minute of silence and then ‘The Letter to the Teachers’ was read, which the French deputy Jean Jaurès wrote in 1888 about the teaching profession and the importance of public school. The French Prime Minister, Jean Castex, and the Minister of Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, participated in the event that took place in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. “Here, Samuel Paty taught every child of the Republic to become a free citizen. For him, for our country, we will continue. It is our honor and our duty, ”Castex wrote on Twitter.
Several players from the French soccer team also joined in the tribute to the murdered teacher and highlighted the importance of the school and the values of the French Republic: freedom, equality and fraternity. «The school of the Republic is like a soccer team. Teachers are like our coaches. To learn and win, we must all play together. Listen, share, help each other… At school, as on the pitch, let’s be united, ”Kylian Mbappé, a Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) player, wrote on Twitter.
France is at the highest level of terrorist alert, after the beheading of Paty two weeks ago and the Islamist attack last Thursday in the Notre Dame de Nice basilica, in which three people died: the sacristan and two parishioners.
Before these two attacks, on September 25, a Pakistani wounded two workers of a television production company with a knife in front of the former premises of ‘Charlie Hebdo’. He mistook them for employees of the satirical magazine, on which he wanted revenge for having republished the controversial cartoons of Muhammad that had already targeted them by jihadists in January 2015.
The covid-19 suspends the trial for the attack on ‘Charlie Hebdo’
The trial for the January 2015 terrorist attacks that has taken place since the beginning of September in Paris is suspended for at least a week after three of the defendants tested positive for covid-19. On the bench sit the accomplices of the three terrorists who murdered 17 people in three attacks between January 7 and 9, 2015: the attack on the editorial staff of the satirical magazine ‘Charlie Hebdo’, the taking of hostages in the koscher supermarket Hyper Cacher and the murder of a police officer in Montrouge. Fourteen people are on trial – three of them absent – for allegedly providing logistical support to the terrorists.
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