Saturday, October 24

To the Parisian tribute to Samuel Paty, the fear of a “fractured” society

Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Paris on October 18, 2020, in tribute to the murdered history professor Samuel Paty. – AFP

  • Samuel Paty, professor of History and geography in a college in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine (Yvelines) was beheaded on Friday October 16 at the end of his establishment.
  • According to the first elements of the investigation, the alleged assailant, killed shortly after, would be Abdoullakh A., a Chechen Russian born in Moscow in 2002 but a refugee in France since he was 3 years old. He claimed his act in the name of Islam.
  • Among the thousands of demonstrators present this Sunday in Paris, many fear a “fracture” within French society.

In Paris, Place de la République,

“I have the impression of reliving the same thing as five years ago”, breathes Philippe, 40, professor of mathematics and physics and chemistry in a high school in the Paris suburbs. Around him, only the surgical masks on the noses of the demonstrators could contradict him. As on January 11, 2015, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks which had decimated the editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo, the police officers and clients of the Hypercacher, the cartoons signed Cabu or Charb can be found all over the Place de la République.

Two days after the beheading of Samuel Paty, professor of History in a college in Yvelines, several thousand people gathered this Sunday in this square in the capital to pay him a final tribute. “Moved” and “horrified”, many said they were “worried” after this attack which targeted a teacher on leaving his establishment.

“Continue to talk to each other”

Like Philippe, Laure, a 39-year-old Parisian was “already there” during the Republican march of January 11, 2015. And like Philippe, she confides her weariness: “We have the feeling that it is endless, that it does not happen. don’t stop ”. Next to her, her daughter Louise, “soon to be 9 years old”, explains in her own words: “We are here because he – well, the professor – was killed just because he was doing his job”. His mother, moved, said her feeling of helplessness in the face of this attack: “It is sometimes difficult to explain to him why we got there, we don’t always have the answers”.

Frédéric, Sandrine and Juliette also came with their family. At 46, this civil servant fears that this attack will have an impact on her children: “I do not want my daughter to find herself in front of frightened teachers or that they muzzle themselves”. Beyond this risk of self-censorship, the 40-year-old calls for a collective leap: “We must get out of politicization. I refuse to end up in an American-style situation, with a fractured society. We must be able to continue talking to each other ”.

Anger and hissing

Calm and peaceful, the rally was however punctuated by heated debates and regular whistles from the crowd. Recalling the presence of elected officials and members of the government at this tribute, the president of SOS Racisme, Dominique Sopo, is copiously booed. On her arrival at the podium, Mélanie Luce, the president of UNEF is interrupted by some demonstrators who launch: “Collabos! Collaborators! “. Targeted by many controversies in recent years, especially since the election of one of its officials wearing the veil, the student organization anchored on the left is accused by its detractors of having given up its fight for secularism.

Like others at this moment, Antoine, 41, struggles to hide his anger: “We have to hear from everyone! This kind of reaction saddens me. It shows how the debate is more and more complicated as soon as we touch on secularism or religion in France ”.

Philippe, the mathematics teacher, fears the “political recovery” of the event: “I’m a little afraid that all this will still lead to debates around our profession, and we are fed up. There is a strong politicization of education and I don’t want that anymore. I want to be able to keep my freedom and do my job as I see fit! “.

“Stay united”

This fear, already present the day after the attacks against Charlie Hebdo, was accentuated for Myriam, a 24-year-old student: “We already know how it’s going to happen. Part of the political class will use this drama to divide again and again. This is what those who commit these acts want and frankly when we see the hatred that has been expressed since Friday on social networks, I’m on the verge of telling myself that they have won, ”sighs the young woman.

A few meters from her, Nageate, parent of a student in Ile-de-France at the FCPE is more optimistic: “To say today that we are witnessing a fracture is a bit strong. The whole educational community must continue to work hand in hand and remain united. This is the only way for teachers to continue to make our children enlightened citizens. “

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