Samuel Paty: French schoolgirl admits lying about murdered teacher

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image captionSamuel Paty’s death sparked protests in France

A French schoolgirl has admitted to lying and spreading false claims about a teacher who was murdered last year.

Samuel Paty was beheaded in October after showing students cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

The girl, whose complaints sparked an online campaign against Paty, has now admitted that she was not in the class.

Mr Paty’s killing stunned France and led to an outpouring of support at memorial ceremonies and marches around the country.

The 13-year-old girl, who has not been named, originally told her father that Paty had asked Muslim students to leave the classroom while he showed the cartoon during a class on free speech and blasphemy.

“She lied because she felt trapped in a spiral because her classmates had asked her to be a spokesperson,” her lawyer, Mbeko Tabula, told the AFP news agency.

The girl’s father filed a legal complaint against the teacher and began an online hate campaign over the incident.

Prosecutors said shortly after the killing that there was a “direct causal link” between the online incitement against Paty and his murder.

The perpetrator, 18-year-old Abdullakh Anzorov, was shot dead by police shortly after the attack.

The schoolgirl has been charged with slander, while her father and an Islamist preacher face charges of complicity in the killing.

President Emmanuel Macron later presented the teacher’s family with the nation’s highest honour, the Légion d’honneur.

Depictions of the Prophet Muhammad are widely regarded as taboo in Islam, and are considered highly offensive by Muslims.

The issue is particularly sensitive in France because of the decision by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to publish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Twelve people were killed by Islamist extremists at the magazine’s offices in 2015 after the images were published.

 

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