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900 teachers face armed threats in a single school year in France

The French senate has made public the results of a parliamentary inquiry launched after a Chechen Islamist beheaded Samuel Paty, a high school history teacher, in 2020 for showing a Charlie Hebdo cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed in his class on freedom of expression. The findings on the state of French schools are alarming and show that the situation has been steadily worsening for several years, The European Conservative news portal pointed out.

After the murder of history teacher Samuel Paty, the committee of inquiry was set up at the request of the teacher’s sister, who felt at the time that nothing had been done by the education system to prevent her brother’s murder. The teacher had repeatedly been subjected to pressure and threats, which had been brought to the attention of the education ministry, but to no avail.

Two senators, one from the ranks of Les Republicains (LR) and the other from the Centrist Union, presented their conclusions at a lengthy hearing in the senate on Wednesday on 6 March. They said they denounce the apparently inexorable rise in violence – a well-known phenomenon – but above all, the blindness of the institution. The figures from the national education department are clearly completely out of touch with reality, and the administration is systematically biased seeking to present numbers in better light.

Laurent Lafon, one of the two rapporteurs, gave this example: The figures released by the education ministry tell us that 0.2 per cent of the teachers in lower and upper secondary schools say they have been threatened with a weapon during the school year. That may seem very low, but it’s almost 900 teachers. That’s four threats a day.

The rapporteurs described the deterioration in the daily lives of teachers, who are regularly threatened and verbally and physically attacked by parents. Teachers are not the only ones affected, with educational staff such as head teachers and educational advisers also being victims.

Faced with an increase in violence, teachers often adopt a strategy of self-censorship. In sensitive subjects, such as natural sciences or history, they don’t broach the topics that cause trouble so as not to get reprimanded or challenged by students or parents over the content they teach.

Downplaying radical Islam is the phenomenon that most worries the authors of the senate report. They note that the expression “faire une Paty”, in reference to the beheading of the history teacher, has passed into the everyday language of teachers who live with this threat uttered by some students on a daily basis.

„I saw a teacher at the end of his day, who was delighted about ‘not having suffered a Paty’ today,” explained the LR senator.

The scale of the problems identified prompted the senators to draft 38 recommendations to improve the situation.


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