Schoolchildren with teacher
Schoolchildren with teacheriStock
“Je suis enseignant”, we are all teachers, says the slogan brandished after the beheading of Professor Samuel Paty in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine for showing the cartoons of Mohammed during a course on freedom of expression.

A Le Monde investigation revealed a less edifying reality.

There is the support of the principal and many parents, but also the many criticisms by the teachers who attacked Paty.
The newspaper accessed Paty's and the school's emails. Reading them, the life of a middle school on the outskirts of Paris emerges, traumatized by a story that everyone believed would soon be forgotten.

These are the emails from the week before the murder. There is the support of the principal and many parents, but also the many criticisms by the teachers who attacked Paty.

It is the story of Western cowardice in facing Islam.

Discussions begin on Thursday 8 October, two days after Paty showed Mohammed's caricatures. "The situation has worsened", the principal writes to Paty: "An individual threatened to bring Muslims to the college."

Paty replies: "The absurdity of the situation is comical!". The teacher sees the accusations, the hatred: "It is malicious gossip," he writes. "I deconstruct the Islamist arguments. There is no blasphemy because the Republic is secular ".

Then the teacher surrenders to the hate campaign: "I will no longer have sessions on this topic". The principal writes to the faculty: "I think I can say that Paty has had a difficult week and that it is important that he can count on each of us." She calls for a joint response from the teachers to protect their colleague, building a wall against intimidation.

Paty gets messages of support from parents. But contrary to the wishes of the principal, no solidarity from the teaching staff. “I feel the need to say that I don't support our colleague,” writes a teacher to the principal. “I refuse to be complicit with my silence. This situation alters the bond of trust that we try to strengthen with the families who have chosen public school and, given the context in which it takes place, endangers the entire community ". So it's Paty who puts everyone in danger.

Another teacher attacks him in even more petty terms: “Our colleague not only failed to serve the cause of freedom of expression, but he provided arguments to the Islamists and worked against secularism by making it look like intolerance and committed an act of discrimination. My ethics forbid me to be an accomplice ”.

Meanwhile, the campaign of an extremist imam and some parents had already set in motion the infernal mechanism that would lead to Paty's beheading. It is Friday when the teachers receive a last email from the principal. "Terrible news". Paty was beheaded by Abdouallakh Anzorov, an 18-year-old Chechen who wanted to "avenge" the Prophet of Islam.

A teacher from the Parisian suburbs, like Paty, in Ouest-France said: "A third of the class questions school programs, it's scary."

On November 2, two weeks after the attack on Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, this teacher submits a questionnaire to the students. Three questions: "What happened on October 16?", "What did you understand about Macron's speech about Paty?" and "Are there any points you want to raise?".

A full third responds thus: "It is not normal to criticize Islam", "It was better when there was no freedom of expression" and "I see no reason to talk about all this".

Then, at the end of the email lesson, the professor asks (is he serious?): "Reassure me, will you behead me?". A student replies: “Don't worry. Not you…".

Giulio Meotti is, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author, in English, of the book "A New Shoah", that researched the personal stories of Israel's terror victims, published by Encounter and of "J'Accuse: the Vatican Against Israel" published by Mantua Books, in addition to books in Italian. His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Gatestone, Frontpage and Commentary.