Beheaded French teacher was upset with social media movement
PARIS / CONFLANS-SAINTE-HONORINE, France (Reuters) — His pupils and their parents identified the teacher beheaded outside his school in a suburb of Paris as loving and competent. But after being the subject of a furious social media movement, he was killed.
An 18-year-old Chechen man murdered Paty, 47, on Friday. Prosecutors said the gunman, fired by police shortly after, tried to threaten the teacher for showing Prophet Mohammad's pupils cartoons in a freedom of speech class earlier this month.
Parents said they were mystified at how the civics lesson might have escalated into a grotesque murder motive.
Prosecutors gave a hint on Saturday when they said they arrested two men, one a pupil 's father at school and one on the security radar, who they said used social media to turn a disagreement over the civics class into a plot against the teacher.
"I can't understand how we got there," said Cécile Ribet Retel, founder of the school's parent group, College du Bois d'Aulne.
"This raises concerns about social media's position.
Paty also showed his pupils cartoons last year as part of the civics program, according to a 13-year-old pupil in that class.
The student, standing beside her mum, said last year nobody had made a fuss about the class. The teacher was "really funny."
"He said jokes. He was really interested in the lectures.
The first sign of a year-long civics lesson problem appeared on Oct. 7 when a girl's parent in class shared an upset video on Facebook. In it, he said the teacher showed Mohammad's cartoons and his daughter, a Muslim, was punished to express her displeasure.
The guy, not officially identified, said he wanted the teacher dismissed.
The next day, father went to see the school principal protest, prosecutors claimed. He posted another Facebook video that night, calling the teacher and identifying the kindergarten.
On Oct. 12, another video emerged on YouTube featuring pupil 's father. Off-camera man interviewed the man's daughter. The voice off-camera said President Emmanuel Macron incited Muslims hate and threatened a protest unless the teacher was dismissed.
Intelligence services knew the man off-camera, anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said on Saturday, but he didn't specify what capacity. The pupil's father's half-sister entered Islamic State in Syria in 2014, Ricard said.
Police arrested both men after murdering Paty.
School workers worked to settle the row. The principal held a meeting with frustrated parents about the civics lecture. The parent publishing the Facebook video didn't come, prosecutors said.
"It went well," said Nordine Chaouadi, who had a child in Paty 's class. "My wife took part. She said that it was a guy who made a mistake. No reason to go for all the social network agitation.
By Tuesday this week, the principal had succeeded in relaxing the school environment, a local official briefed on what happened, who did not want to be named.
By then, the problem had worsened.
The school had received threats after social media videos began circulating, according to prosecutors.
Saturday, the day after the teacher 's death, pupils and parents laid roses at school gates.
At school meetings, Chahinez Senouci, who has a brother, said she used to bump into Paty.
"He was a teacher who loved students, very attentive. He diligently followed everything correctly, "she added. "It's incredible shock."