Police interrogated the French schoolteacher over Prophet Mohammed cartoons following a complaint from a parent whose daughter didn’t attend the class, it emerged today.
‘I did not commit any offence,’ Samuel Paty told officers four days before he was beheaded by a jihadist outside his school in the Paris suburbs.
The 47-year-old was summoned to the police station after the schoolgirl’s father complained that his showing cartoons of Mohammed amounted to ‘dissemination of pornographic images.’
But Paty told officers that the child was absent from his class on October 6 and that her story was founded on ‘student rumours’ with the intention to ‘damage my image, the college and the institution.’
Teacher Samuel Paty (left) was beheaded in the Paris suburbs on Friday after he shared cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in class, leading Brahim Chinina (right), the father of a girl in his class, to issue what France’s interior minister called a ‘fatwa’ against him
Flowers are laid outside the middle school during a vigil march, dubbed a ‘Marche Blanche’ (White March), on Tuesday night in Conflans Saint-Honorine, near Paris
The terrorist’s body lying in the middle of the road after he was killed by French police following his refusal to surrender
Paty’s colleagues told France Info that the history and geography teacher had been deeply upset by an online video branding him a ‘thug’ which was allegedly circulated by the girl’s outraged father.
Paty was decapitated in broad daylight outside his school in the Parisian suburbs last Friday by Chechen Aboulakh Anzorov, 18, who paid a 14-year-old schoolboy €300 (£270) to identify the history and geography tutor.
French newspaper receives threats over republishing Hebdo cartoon in solidarity with slain teacher
A French newspaper has received threats after republishing a Charlie Hebdo cartoon on Mohammed to highlight Islamic extremism following the teacher’s murder.
Loire Valley paper La Nouvelle Republique has made a legal complaint citing five comments on Facebook which were particularly egregious.
On Sunday, the paper published an earlier satirical cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed in solidarity with beheaded school teacher Samuel Paty, 47, who had shown Charlie Hebdo cartoons in a class on freedom of expression.
A journalist at La Nouvelle Republique, Christophe Herigault, spoke on TV last night to reveal that while the vast majority praised the paper for its front page of the Hebo cartoon, there had been a small number of threats.
‘There were four or five threats, notably on Facebook, which has led us to lodge a judicial complaint, as a matter of principle,’ Herigault told BFM TV.
Officials at the local police department could not immediately be reached.
Paty’s murder has shocked France, and carried echoes of the attack five years ago on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, after the magazine had also published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in 2015.
Anzorov had been in contact with the father of a girl in Paty’s class who instigated a campaign against him over the cartoons.
The father, Brahim Chnina, is in custody after France’s interior minister accused him of launching a ‘fatwa’ against Paty.
Chnina had put his phone number on a Facebook post with a video calling for protests against Paty, and later published details of the teacher and his school.
Chnina, along with six others, including two teenagers who were allegedly paid by Anzorov for information, are due to appear in court today. Nine others were arrested as part of the investigation but have since been released.
When questioned about a claim that he’d asked the Muslims in his class to leave, Paty told officers: ‘I suggested that my students look away for a few seconds if they thought they were shocked for one reason or another.
‘At no time did I tell the students: “Muslims, you can go out because you are going to be shocked.” And I did not ask the students who were of the Muslim faith. My goal when I asked them to look away was that they didn’t feel offended.’
Following the interview, Paty made a complaint of defamation against the father of the girl over his online video.
The school’s principal had supported Paty at his police interview.
The French government will today honour Paty with a posthumous Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest order of merit, in a ceremony at the Sorbonne.
The murder has led to a renewed crackdown on extremism in France where ministers plan to shut down two Islamic organisations and a Paris mosque.
One imam apologised today after his mosque shared details of Paty and his school on Facebook following a campaign by an outraged Muslim father.
‘Given what happened we regret having published it, said imam M’hammed Henniche, according to France Info.
‘We are currently seeing how in the future to take a step back before getting carried away on things like that.’
While ISIS has not claimed responsibility for Paty’s killing, the magazine has previously urged people to emulate the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris which was also seen as revenge for blasphemy against Mohammed.
The Charlie Hebdo attackers were ‘leaving a clear path for others to follow’ because Western governments would not ‘carry out the punishment for the blasphemy prescribed by Islam’, the ISIS magazine said.
The 2015 killings were the first in a series of terror attacks which have rocked France in recent years, including Paty’s beheading last Friday.
According to the SITE Intelligence Group, a US-based monitor, supporters of al-Qaeda have also been ‘celebrating’ the attack and sharing graphic images online.
French MPs pay tribute in front of the National Assembly building in Paris today with a picture of Samuel Paty displayed on the steps
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen speaks to the media as she attends a vigil for Paty in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine on Monday evening
Head of right-wing party Rassemblement National Marine Le Pen pays tribute to history professor Samuel Paty in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine
A man looks at flowers layed outside the Bois d’Aulne secondary school in homage to slain history teacher Samuel Paty, who was beheaded by an attacker for showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in his civics class
Armed police stand guard outside the secondary school where Samuel Paty taught, while mourners lay flowers at the scene alongside a placard declaring ‘Je suis Samuel’
There have also been posts from ISIS and al-Qaeda supporters ‘claiming [the killer] will inspire other lone wolves’, according to SITE director Rita Katz.
Meanwhile, Paris prosecutors said they had opened an investigation into a French neo-Nazi website hosted abroad that republished the photo of Paty’s corpse.
The teacher’s murder has led to renewed promises of action against Islamic extremists in France, with police conducting a series of raids on Monday.
Fifteen people have been detained so far, including four pupils who may have helped the killer to identify the teacher in return for money.
Law enforcement carried out 40 raids on Monday, mostly around Paris, with many more planned.
‘We want to harass and destabilise this movement in a very determined way,’ one government source said.
In addition, a 14-year-old French schoolboy has admitted identifying Paty to the terrorist who beheaded him after accepting the equivalent of €300 (£270) in cash.
The boy who accepted the money shared it among three friends, who are also all in custody. None of the children are thought to be Muslim and it is not suggested that they knew of Anzorov’s terrorist plans.
‘Anzarov said he simply wanted to film the teacher and ask him to apologise for showing the drawings to his class,’ said an investigating source.
Interior minister Gerald Darmanin vowed there would be ‘not a minute’s respite for enemies of the Republic’, after tens of thousands took part in nationwide rallies.
Darmanin said the government would also tighten its grip on institutions and charities with suspected links to Islamist networks.
Dramatic footage filmed from a nearby house shows the fatal stand-off between French police and the terrorist they shot dead last Friday after he beheaded a school teacher who showed cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed to his class
Officials named two groups they would target for closure – the Collective Against Islamophobia in France that says it monitors attacks against Muslims, and BarakaCity, which describes itself as a humanitarian organisation.
In a social media post, BarakaCity accused Darmanin of ‘going mad’ and said he was taking advantage of a tragedy.
Darmanin also ordered the closure of a Paris mosque, accusing its imam of encouraging intimidation of the teacher and publicising the school’s address.
Paty was attacked on his way home from the secondary school where he taught in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 25 miles from central Paris.
Anzorov was shot dead after refusing to put down his weapons in a dramatic stand-off with police soon after he murdered Paty.
The terrorist had arrived in France with his family from the predominantly Muslim Russian region of Chechnya more than a decade ago.
Flowers are layed in front of the middle school (college) during a vigil march, dubbed a ‘Marche Blanche’ (White March) to pay respect to the teacher Samuel Paty who was assassinated in Conflans Saint-Honorine
Flowers and signs reading “I am Samuel Paty’ are displayed at a makeshift memorial during a march (marche blanche) in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine
Signs and flowers paying tribute to the slain school teacher in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine
Four members of the killer’s family were among those detained.
The people under investigation also include the father of a 13-year-old schoolgirl who was in Paty’s class when he showed the controversial images during a lesson about freedom of expression.
Paty had given Muslim children an opportunity to leave the classroom, but the lesson nonetheless led to uproar.
The father, Brahim Chnina, launched an online campaign against the teacher and has now been arrested along with a known Islamist radical.
Chnina he wanted the teacher removed and went to see the principal of the school to complain, prosecutors said.
That evening, he put out another Facebook video, giving the name of the teacher and identifying the school.