The recent killing of a teacher for showing cartoons of Prophet Muhammed has sparked the debate over religious extremism and freedom of expression in France, which has witnessed similar events in recent past.
Crux of the Matter
Samuel Paty, a 47-year-old history and geography teacher in Paris, was beheaded on 16 October. The crime was done by Abdullakh Anzorov, an18-year-old refugee student born in Chechnya (Republic in southwestern Russia).
Anzorov was shot dead by police after he attempted an assault on the police officers who went to arrest him.
- Paty arranged a class on freedom of speech.
- Showed teenagers a caricature of Prophet Muhammad published in ‘Charlie Hebdo’ magazine – depiction of Allah or Prophet is considered blasphemous in Islam.
- Paty reportedly asked the Muslim students to leave the classroom if they didn’t wish to see the cartoons.
- Several parents demanded his resignation afterwards.
- Paty also became target of social media hate campaign afterward.
- 16 October: Anzorov beheaded Paty (10 days after his class).
About The Charlie Hebdo Magazine
- Charlie Hebdo is a satirical magazine in France.
- Attacked thrice: 2011, 2015, and 2020.
- 2015 attacks were the worst as 12 people including cartoonists of the Magazine were killed.
- September 2020: Knife attacks at former headquarters as it re-published its cartoons on Prophet.
- All 3 attacks occurred after publishing cartoons of Prophet Muhammad, whose depiction is banned in Islam.
- French Government has launched a crackdown on several organizations potentially linked with Islamist extremism.
- Mass rallies occurred across France with the slogan “Je suis enseignant” (I am a teacher).
- 10 people have been arrested so far. 231 people having extremist religious views would be allegedly deported.
- Several French mosques have openly condemned the attacks. Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned the attack but also condemned the “blasphemous” cartoons against Prophet.
- France President Emmanuel Macron stated that Paty was a “victim of a typical Islamist terrorist attack”. He also defended French Laïcité (secularism) and freedom of speech (especially cartoon culture).
- 2 weeks before the incident, Macron had claimed that “Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world today” over alleged extremism rise. However, he lamented inadequate work done for the betterment of immigrants, and said “we have not sufficiently created diversity, or ensured economic and social mobility”.
- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Macron’s response, saying “Macron needs treatment on a mental level”.
- Turkey, Kuwait, and Qatar have initiated a boycott of French goods.
- Mentioned countries have been slammed by critics for speaking against cartoons but maintaining silence against Uighur Muslims in China. More than 1 million Uighurs are held in detention camps, with cases of forced labour and organ harvesting being reported.
- France has the most number of time zones (12), mostly due to the various territories it controls around the world. They range from French Polynesia (10 hours behind UTC) to the islands of Wallis and Futuna (12 hours ahead of UTC).
- ‘Je Suis Charlie’ which means ‘I am Charlie’ became the rallying cry for all the supporters of freedom of speech and freedom of Media after the 2015 attacks.
- Stéphane Charbonnier was a French satirical caricaturist and journalist. He was assassinated by Islamic terrorists during the Charlie Hebdo shooting on 7 January 2015.
- Satire is a genre of literature and performing arts in which vices, follies, abuses and shortcomings are held up to ridicule individuals, corporations, government, or society itself into improvement. A feature of satire is strong irony or sarcasm —“in satire, irony is militant”, according to literary critic Northrup Frye.
- The Guardian – Macron’s clash with Islam sends jolt through France’s long debate about secularism
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation – Teacher beheaded near Paris after showing class images of Mohammed
- Reuters – France to expel 231 suspected extremists after attack on teacher:source
- The Hindu – Emmanuel Macron says Islam ‘in crisis’, unveils anti-radicalism plan
- Quartz – Charlie Hebdo and the quintessentially French art of offensive cartoons
- CNN – Calls to boycott French products grow in Muslim world after Macron backs Mohammed cartoons