French teachers vow to ‘teach difficult subjects’ and rally against intolerance after colleague’s murder

Shocked French teachers vowed to continue encouraging their pupils’ “critical spirit” by raising contested subjects after an Islamic terrorist beheaded a secondary school teacher who showed his students caricatures of the Prophet as part of a freedom of speech discussion.

Tens of thousands of people have rallied in solidarity, in dozens of towns and cities across France, after a secondary schoolteacher was beheaded in an attack that has shocked a country already shaken by terrorist atrocities.

We will continue to speak about freedom of speech. If there are difficult subjects, we will continue to teach them. We will try to encourage our students’ critical spirit and explain that everyone has the right to disagree.” spokesperson of teacher association said

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As part of a discussion on freedom of speech, Paty showed the class some of the controversial Charlie Hebdocaricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. Conscious that this might cause offence to some of his Muslim pupils, Paty suggested they could look away or leave the classroom.

Before the meeting Jean-Remi Girard, president of the secondary school teaching union, said teachers were “devastated” but would not be cowed. “It is terrifying to see that in France in the 21st century, a teacher can be decapitated in the street for doing his job,” Girard said.

The French president Emmanuel Macron, who described the killing as a “typical Islamist terrorist attack”, said France was engaged in an “existential” battle against terrorism.

Rallies were expected in cities across France on Sunday in a show of solidarity and defiance, with Blanquer telling France 2: “It is absolutely important to show our mobilisation and our solidarity, our national cohesion.” He called on everyone to support the teachers.

One rally is set to take place at the Place de la République in Paris, a traditional site of protest where around 1.5 million people demonstrated in 2015 following a deadly attack on Charle Hebdo’s office by Islamist gunmen.

Rallies were also expected in Lyon, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Nantes, Marseille, Lille and Bordeaux.

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