France vows “not to give up cartoons” as teens accused of murdering professor

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People gather to watch a live broadcast of a national tribute to French teacher Samuel Paty

Paris, France:

Two teenagers accused of denouncing French teacher Samuel Paty to his murderer who beheaded him were accused on Wednesday of aiding and abetting terrorist murder, prosecutors said, as the nation paid tribute to the slain educator.

“We will not give up cartoons,” President Emmanuel Macron said earlier in a solemn ceremony at the Sorbonne University in Paris in the presence of Paty’s family, who were targeted for showing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad during a civic class discussion on free speech earlier this month.

The president presented the highest civilian honor in France, the Legion of Honor, to Paty and declared that he had been killed by “cowards” for having represented the secular and democratic values ​​of the French Republic.

“He was killed because the Islamists want our future,” Macron said. “They’ll never get it.”

Earlier on Wednesday, counterterrorism prosecutor Jean-François Ricard said the two teenagers – aged 14 and 15 – were part of a group of students who shared 300 to 350 euros ($ 356 to $ 414) offered by the killer to help find Paty.

The two stayed with the killer, Chechen-born Abdullakh Anzorov, 18, for more than two hours waiting for Paty, even after telling them he wanted to “humiliate and hit him” because of Mohamed’s cartoons. , considered offensive by many. Muslims, Ricard said.

Anzorov then killed Paty as he walked home from high school where he taught in the Conflans-Sainte-Honorine suburb outside of Paris.

The couple are among seven people accused by authorities of the murder.

The parent of one of Paty’s students, who launched the social media campaign against the teacher when his daughter was not in class when the cartoons were shown, has also been charged with the same offense as the two teenagers, the national anti-terrorist prosecution. said late Wednesday.

A well-known radical Islamist who helped the father in his campaign was also indicted.

Paty, 47, has become the target of an online hate campaign over his choice of course material – the same footage that sparked a bloody attack by Islamist gunmen on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 .

A trial opened in Paris last month for complicity in the attack, which claimed the lives of 12 people including cartoonists.

“Fatwa”

Anzorov beheaded Paty with a long knife and tweeted an image of the teacher’s severed head on Twitter before being shot by police. Many Paty’s students have seen the disturbing image online.

The student’s father had exchanged messages with Anzorov via WhatsApp in the days leading up to the murder.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin accused the father and the Islamist radical of having issued a “fatwa” against Paty.

The other three people being pursued are friends of Anzorov, one of whom is said to have taken him to the scene of the crime while another accompanied him to buy a weapon.

Two of them also face complicity in a terrorist murder charge while the third was charged with a lesser offense, the anti-terrorism prosecution said.

Police have carried out dozens of raids since the crime, while the government ordered the six-month closure of a mosque outside Paris and disbanded the Sheikh Yassin Collective, a group they claim supported Hamas.

The Palestinian terror group said on Wednesday it had “no connection” with the French organization founded by Abdelhakim Sefrioui – the radical Islamist in custody for the murder of Paty.

The French government has planned to dissolve more than 50 other organizations it accuses of having links with radical Islam.

“Our citizens are waiting for action,” Macron said on Tuesday, promising that the government will step up the crackdown on radical Islam.

French solidarity

Paty’s beheading was the second knife attack in the name of Prophet Muhammad’s revenge since the Charlie Hebdo trial began last month.

The murder sparked a wave of emotion and solidarity in France, with tens of thousands of people taking part in rallies across the country over the weekend.

Thousands more took part on Tuesday in a silent march in honor of the professor in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine.

France’s Sports Ministry said on Wednesday that participants in all of this weekend’s professional sporting events – football, basketball, handball, rugby, ice hockey and volleyball – would observe a minute of pre-match silence for Paty and would wear black armbands for scheduled matches. for the next week.

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