France Reeling From Beheading of Schoolteacher Educating About Free Speech

EDITORS NOTE: In an attack that sent France reeling, on Friday afternoon, October 16, in broad daylight, a French schoolteacher was beheaded on a suburban street for teaching his students a required lesson about free speech. Samuel Paty, 47, was murdered close to the school where he taught by an 18-year-old Chechen immigrant (identified only as Abdoulakh A.) who had come to France as a child refugee.

Abdoulakh then posted images of Paty’s severed head on his Twitter account along with insults aimed at French President Emmanuel Macron and French “infidels” and “dogs.” 

Witnesses reported hearing Abdoulakh shout “Allahu Akbar (God is Greatest)!” during the attack. Abdoulakh had been waiting for Paty before attacking him with a knife and inflicting him with multiple head wounds.

The attacker was killed by police after firing at them with an airgun.

Paty was a history and geography teacher, who had been threatened many times after educating his students in light of the ongoing Charlie Hebdo trial and showing them cartoons from the satirical magazine depicting Islam’s prophet Mohammed (he advised Muslim students to look away if they were offended).

In 2015, 14 Islamist extremists murdered 17 people in a killing spree that started at the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo. The magazine had published “Mohammed cartoons” that triggered a violent assault, turning their newsroom into a scene of carnage, blood and gunpowder.

Abdoulakh, who lived 62 miles away from the school, waited for Paty outside the school, asked students to point out Paty and followed him on foot.

Macron said the attack was consistent with an “Islamist terrorist attack” and that Paty had been killed because he “taught freedom of expression.”

France announced it will hold a national tribute for Paty. The hashtag #JeSuisSamuel (I am Samuel) began trending on social media shortly after the attack, reminiscent of the #JeSuisCharlie call for solidarity after the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

Since the trial began, there have been two terror attacks with two people wounded outside the magazine’s former offices.

On Friday after the attack, Charlie Hebdo tweeted, “Intolerance just reached a new threshold and seems to stop at nothing to impose terror in our country.”


The Threat of Political Islam

In the space of five years, France’s President Emmanuel Macron has performed a gradual and now complete volte-face on the threat that political Islam poses to France.

In a 2015 speech before he became president, he declared that France’s colonial past was partly responsible for the emergence of jihad in the homeland.

At a press conference in April 2019 in which he announced measures he planned to take in response to the civil unrest that was sweeping the nation, he spoke about the emergence of what he termed “communitarianism” (a euphemism for political Islam) that would eventually lead certain parts of the country to secede from the French Republic.

The only concrete measure he proposed was to ban foreign funding of mosques and Islamist NGOs that were driving political Islam and putting national cohesion at risk.

Over the past 18 months, a policy speech has been eagerly awaited by the media and public, but Macron has a tendency to shy away from this explosive topic, and the pandemic that paralyzed the country in March 2020 enabled him to kick the can down the road.

That policy speech materialized on October 2, when Macron finally stopped beating around the bush and declared radical Islam to be a clear and present danger to France that needs to be tackled urgently.

He stated that Islamist separatists had put in place an orchestrated plan and network to create a parallel social order within the French Republic, which he defined as a nation of citizens forming an “indivisible bloc” that is “one and plural,” echoing the United States motto E pluribus unum.

The ultimate goal of the Islamist ideologists is to take full control of French society.

Macron announced a draft law designed to combat Islamist separatism will be presented to the cabinet on December 9 that will include the following measures:

  1. Schooling will be compulsory for children from the age of three and exemptions will only be granted for medical reasons. Macron revealed that over 50,000 children are currently homeschooled and that many of them are attending bunker-type institutions where they are taught by women in niqabs and learn only how to pray.
  2. Mayors who are pressured by Islamist organizations to introduce religious menus in school canteens or allow gender-segregated use of public swimming pools will see their decisions annulled by the local préfet, a state-appointed official tasked with ensuring compliance with the law and national interest.
  3. Powers to dissolve NGOs will be extended to include those that violate personal dignity and exert psychological or physical pressure. This measure is intended to target the network of Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist organizations that have mushroomed throughout the country in the past three decades. All NGOs receiving public funds will be required to sign a secular charter and refund the money if the charter is not respected.
  4. The ELCO program will be terminated. This program was introduced in the 1970s to enable children of Arabic, Turkish, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Croatian immigrants to learn the language and culture of their parents’ home country. The teachers are hired, paid and supervised by the countries concerned. In reality, the ELCO program was a pipeline for the indoctrination of Muslim children, as the study of Arabic was restricted to reading religious texts. ELCO will be replaced by an alternative system controlled by the French Ministry of Education.
  5. Religious neutrality, which is already legally required in the public sector workplace, will also apply to public services that are sub-contracted to private entities, such as transport companies.
  6. Funding of mosques will be subject to stricter control and measures will be taken to prevent Salafists from taking over mosques and using them to propagate extremism.
  7. The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) will be required to certify imams and ensure they respect a charter of values compliant with those of the French Republic. Foreign imams (of which there are currently around 300 from Algeria, Morocco and Turkey) will not be allowed to preach in French mosques.
  8. The state will donate $12 million to the Foundation for French Islam to set up a scientific institute for the study of Islam and additional research posts will be created in French universities.

Macron reiterated his accusation that France was partly to blame for the emergence of Islamist separatism because of its failure to integrate Muslim immigrants and their offspring. He also wheeled out the role played by France’s colonial past.

These arguments can be easily refuted as France’s colonial past in Vietnam has not prevented the total integration of the Vietnamese immigrants who arrived in the 1970s.

There is nothing new in the proposals outlined by Macron, most of which are drawn from The Islamist Factory, a 2018 report by Hakim El Karoui of the Montaigne Institute think tank.

The measures are unlikely to make a dent in the inroads that have already been made in French society by the advocates of political Islam, and the growing numbers of French Muslims who are hostile to French society are unlikely to be dissuaded from their determination to live separately from the rest of the French population.

Macron’s stated goal of building “an Islam in France that can be an Islam of the Enlightenment” shows the extent to which he has failed to understand the nature of political Islam or take the measure of the threat it poses to France.

Political Islam is incompatible with the Enlightenment values upon which the French Republic was founded and therein lies the dilemma facing both the French Muslim community and the politicians seeking to defuse the threat they pose to the nation.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Clarion Project is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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