A 13-year-old girl has admitted to lying about a French schoolteacher who was beheaded by a Muslim immigrant last October, Le Parisien reported.
The Muslim teenager only known as Z did not want her father to learn that she was suspended for skipping classes so she told him that her history and geography teacher Samuel Paty, 47, had suspended her from classes after she had a disagreement with him over his plan to show students caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad during a lesson on free speech.
More than a week later the lie led to a chain of events that culminated in the gruesome murder of the teacher.
To be or not to be Charlie?
Samuel Paty’s lesson was dedicated to a controversial issue – the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad printed by French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015. The Quran, the central religious text in Islam, doesn’t say anything about depictions of Allah or the Prophet Muhammad, nevertheless, many Muslims oppose portrayals of the prophet because it may lead to a temptation toward idol worship, while satire about the religion is considered blasphemous and in some countries is punishable by death.
After the magazine, which has created similar pieces on other religious figures, released the issue in 2015 it came under heavy criticism from Muslim countries. That same year, Islamists staged several attacks in France that left 17 people dead, including employees at Charlie Hebdo.
The attacks shocked the world and in order to show support for the victims many users online used the slogan “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie).
Paty’s lesson was dedicated to freedom of speech and whether they considered it wrong or right to be Charlie.
False Accusations and Murder
The girl told her father that she had a disagreement with Paty over his plan to show caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad during the lesson and that the teacher instructed Muslim students to leave the classroom so that he could show the rest of the class a “photograph of the prophet naked”.
She also told her father that Paty had suspended her from classes for two days.
According to the French newspaper Le Parisien, the teenager lied to keep from getting in trouble with her father.
“She would not have dared to confess to her father the real reasons for her exclusion shortly before the tragedy, which was in fact linked to her bad behaviour”, Le Parisien reported.
Afterward, her Moroccan-born father, Brahim Chnina, 48, shared a video on Facebook in which he condemned Paty’s “actions” and called for his removal.
He later posted a second video in which he accused the teacher of Islamophobia and “discrimination” and told school officials Paty was spreading “a pornographic image”.
News about the “Islamophobic” teacher spread online. According to a later investigation, 18-year-old Chechen immigrant Abdullakh Anzorov, who lived in Normandy, learned about Paty from a video published by the Grand Mosque of Pantin. On 16 October, Anzorov travelled to a Paris suburb, paid two students to show him Paty, and then beheaded the 47-year-old.
The girl reportedly told the police the same things she told her father, but later several classmates told investigators she wasn’t present in the classroom and that Paty never told Muslim students to leave.
“She lied because she felt trapped in a spiral because her classmates had asked her to be a spokesperson”, her lawyer, Mbeko Tabula told AFP.
He insists it is the father and not the girl, who should be punished for the tragedy. “My client lied, but even if it had been true, the reaction of her father was still disproportionate”, the lawyer said.
Brahim Chnina and an Islamist preacher were charged with complicity in the killing. The father said his actions were “idiotic” and “stupid”.
“I never thought my messages would be seen by terrorists. I didn’t want to harm anyone with that message. It’s hard to imagine how we got here, that we’ve lost a history professor and everyone blames me”, he said.
Header: The coffin of slain teacher Samuel Paty is carried in the courtyard of the Sorbonne university during a national memorial event, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020 in Paris. © AP PHOTO / FRANCOIS MORI