“One love, one blood, one life; a life, with each other, sisters, brothers; a life, although we are not equal, we can carry each other & rdquor ;. With this U2 tune, chosen by the family of Samuel Paty, the Republican Guard carried the coffin of the professor of history and geography to the heart of the Sorbonne University, a symbol of reason and debate. As night falls on this Wednesday, France fired his latest victim of Islamist terrorism, a teacher who lost his life for teaching one of the most basic principles of democracy: freedom of expression.
Samuel Paty used cartoons from Muhammad published by the satirical weekly ‘Charlie Hebdo‘to illustrate one of his high school classes, a presentation that ended up costing him his life. The 47-year-old teacher and father of a child was beheaded at the hands of a young Chechen “In the name of Allah, the all merciful & rdquor;, as claimed through social networks before being killed by the police. The tragic episode, far from being a simple isolated event, supposes a blow to the core of the Republic: the school.
The sadness, pure and hard, permeated the atmosphere of an unprecedented ceremony, where the gestures and expressions of distress and sorrow were glimpsed in the eyes of the relatives and students present in the Court of Honor of the Parisian university, whose faces remained, inevitably, covered by the masks that mark now any mass meeting.
Eagerness to share knowledge
The words chosen to remember Samuel Paty paid tribute to his career as a teacher, to his desire to share knowledge with his students. “You have in your hands the intelligence and the soul of children; you are responsible for the homeland […] They are French and must know France, its geography and its history: its body and its soul […] They will be citizens and must know what a free democracy is, what rights they have, what duties the sovereignty of the nation imposes on them. You must teach them respect and worship of the soul, awakening in them the feeling of how infinite our joy is, and also our strength, because it is through it that we will triumph over evil, darkness and death& rdquor ;, a text by Jean Jaurès dedicated to teachers, chosen by Samuel Paty’s family and recited by a good friend in the midst of a deafening silence.
The Sorbonne, monument dedicated to the spirit of the Illustration, to culture, to literature, to knowledge, it hosted a ceremony where the importance of education was vindicated over and over again. It was a student who read the letter written by Albert Camus to his first professor after receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature: “Without you, without the loving hand that you extended to the poor child that he was, without your teaching and your example, none of this would have happened.& rdquor ;. Words that evoke the gratitude and regret that Paty’s students feel today.
“There could be no better place than the Sorbonne, our place of universal knowledge for more than eight centuries, the place of humanism, for the nation to pay tribute [a Samuel Paty]”, explicó Emmanuel Macron during his speech, before describing the teacher’s personality: “He loved books, knowledge above all else. His apartment was a library. His best gifts were books for learning … He liked them to convey his passion for knowledge to his students and family. the taste of freedom”.
“We will not give up cartoons”
The head of state reserved his speech only and solely to the professor. “Tonight I will not speak of the procession of terrorists, nor of their accomplices and nor of all the cowards who committed and made this attack possible. I will not speak of those who gave their name to the barbarians. They don’t deserve it & rdquor ;, Macron decided firmly.
Last Friday, Samuel Paty “became the face of the Republic […] of our will to end the terrorists & rdquor ;, continued the French president, before launching a promise on behalf of the teacher: “We will defend the freedom that you taught so well and we will defend secularism. We will not give up cartoons […] We will continue this fight for freedom and for reason, of which you are now the image, because we owe it to you. Because in France, professor, the lights never go out & rdquor ;.