French PM, paying tribute to slain teacher, says France will defend its values

French Prime Minister Jean Castex paid tribute on Saturday, October 16, to history teacher Samuel Paty a year after he was murdered by an Islamist radical, saying France would stand up for its values of secularism and freedom.

Paty's attacker, a teenager of Chechen origin, had wanted to avenge the teacher's use of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a class on freedom of expression for 13-year-olds. Muslims see any depiction of the Prophet as blasphemous.

"Here is a man who wanted to do his job, a demanding and sometimes thankless job, a man who only aspired to transmit the values ​​of freedom, secularism, tolerance, free will (...)," Castex said after unveiling a commemorative plaque at the Ministry of National Education.

"For these reasons a servant of the Republic was assassinated," he added.

A series of ceremonies in memory of Paty were organized on Friday and Saturday, with school children singing songs and holding minutes of silence in classes.

France, home to Europe's largest Muslim minority, has seen a wave of attacks carried out by Islamist militants or their sympathizers in recent years. –