French Jewish groups have called on their supporters to join a rally Sunday in memory of the schoolteacher murdered Friday after facing criticism for showing caricatures of the Islamic prophet Muhammad to his students.
The rally in memory of Samuel Paty, who was decapitated outside the school where he worked by an 18-year-old refugee from Chechnya who appeared to have been motivated by videos on social media, is focused on safeguarding freedom of expression. But the Jewish groups say it should also call attention to the threat of Islamic terrorism in France.
CRIF, the umbrella organisation of French Jewish communities, called on its followers to show up for the rally in Paris’ Republique Square, citing the “escalating nature of Islamist attacks.” So did the National Bureau of Vigilance Against Antisemitism .
“Islamist horror and Islamist terror have hit France again,” said the antisemitism watchdog group’s statement, which called for the expulsion of Islamist terrorism suspects from France. “It is time to take real action to eradicate this danger that comes from within.”
Multiple French Muslim groups have condemned the attack, which came weeks after Paty showed his students cartoons that had appeared in Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine targeted in a 2015 terror attack, as part of a lesson about free speech. The parent of a student in the class became incensed by Paty’s use of the images, which included a depiction of Muhammad, and waged a campaign against him both at his school and online, where videos criticising the teacher spread widely.
Abdoullakh Abouyezidovitch Anzorov, who arrived in France with his family when he was 6 years old, traveled to Paty’s school and asked students exiting on Friday to identify the teacher. After decapitating Paty, the teenager posted a video online and and shouted “Allah is the greatest” while brandishing the knife at police, who then shot him dead, French officials said during a press conference Saturday.
Police in France have arrested several people in connection with the murder, including Abdelhakim Sefrioui, an imam who has long agitated against Israel and against other Muslim leaders who have spoken out against radicalism or tried to foster dialogue with French Jews. Sefrioui had accompanied the father who originally posted the videos criticising Paty to his school; the father is also in custody.
The attack is only the latest connected to the Charlie Hebdo attack, in which Islamists murdered 12 people in the magazine’s Paris offices. An accomplice killed four Jews at a kosher supermarket two days later. Alleged accomplices of the killers in both attacks are on trial in Paris.
Last month, an attacker stabbed multiple people on the Paris street where Charlie Hebdo had been located, prompting French officials to deploy armed guards to protect Jews in synagogues on Yom Kippur. “Jews in particular are the target of Islamist attacks,” a top French official said at the time.
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.