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France pays tribute to teacher Samuel Paty on first anniversary of his death

·2 min read

French Prime Minister Jean Castex has paid homage to history teacher Samuel Paty who was murdered by an Islamist extremist a year ago after showing his students cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

47-year-old Samuel Paty was stabbed and then decapitated on 16 October last year after leaving the middle school where he taught history and geography in the Paris suburbs.

"Here is a man who wanted to do his job, a demanding and sometimes thankless job, a man who only aspired to transmit the values of freedom, secularism, tolerance, free will,” Castex said on Saturday, unveiling a commemorative plaque outside the Ministry of Education in the presence of Paty’s family.

The plaque read: “Homage to Samuel Paty… Murdered by an Islamic terrorist for teaching and defending the values of the Republic, including freedom of expression.”

"Samuel Paty was a victim of Islamist terrorism and human cowardice, PM Castex said, underlining that paying tribute to him was also a way of supporting the republican project.

Paty's family will meet President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysée Palace later today.

Schools named after Paty

Also on Saturday, a square facing the Sorbonne University in the capital's Latin Quarter will be named after Paty in a ceremony that the mayor's office said would be "simple and contemplative".

On Friday ceremonies remembering Paty were held in schools across the country.

Schools in at least three towns have already been named after Paty, including in the multi-ethnic eastern Paris suburb of Valenton.

The teacher's particularly brutal murder – by a teenager of Chechen origin – stunned the teaching profession, who saw it as an attack on the country's core values, including the separation of church and state, and the right to blaspheme.

Coming in the wake of other attacks attributed to Islamist extremists, the anniversary of Paty's death has reignited debate over integration and immigration in France's officially secular society in the lead up to presidential elections next spring.

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