It is time for excitement in France and for the union around teachers who, like Samuel Paty, beheaded on Friday for showing cartoons of Muhammad in a class on freedom of expression , prepare the youngest to be citizens, they They explain what the republican motto de la liberté, égalité, fraternité means . The national tribute to Paty, this Wednesday in the courtyard of the Sorbonne University in Paris, was a tribute to the figure of the teacher, a pillar of democracy. “Evil has been named,” President Emmanuel Macron said hours earlier. “It is political Islamism.”
There is a time for political statements and heavy-handed promises, and another for homage. In the morning, Macron made the Council of Ministers adopt the first measures to persecute Islamist organizations and small groups that, in his opinion, are considered above the laws of the Republic and may end up being the breeding ground for murders such as last Friday in the municipality of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. In the afternoon, the president posthumously decorated Samuel Paty with the medal of the Legion of Honor, and participated in the ceremony at the temple of French and European knowledge.
The message of the President of the Republic, in the morning and in the afternoon, was not, in reality, that different. It is in the school that Islamists intoxicate future citizens. It is in the classrooms that France loses them: the 18-year-old terrorist had also been educated in public school . And that is where the battle is fought.
“Samuel Paty was assassinated,” Macron said at the Sorbonne, “because he embodied the Republic that is reborn every day in the classrooms, the freedom that is transmitted and perpetuated in the school. Samuel Paty died because Islamists want our future, and they know that with quiet heroes like him, they will never get it. They separate the faithful and the unfaithful. For Samuel Paty, there were only citizens ”.
Hours before, the president had reiterated to his ministers the message of recent days: “Fear must change sides. Islamists should not be able to sleep soundly in our country. ” The rhetoric is new. The diagnosis and the proposals – greater ideological and financial control of mosques and Islamist associations, greater vigilance against the indoctrination of minors – were already included in the speech on the so-called “separatism” that the president delivered on October 2 .
After the Conflans-Sainte-Honorine attack, Macron asked his government for “concrete actions.” And the state machinery has started. But legal obstacles can delay the adoption of the most striking measures that the government wants, such as the dissolution of the influential Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) or the NGO Baraka City.
The Council of Ministers decided the dissolution of a group that received the name of Sheik Yasín. It was led by the preacher who helped the father of a student in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine launch the campaign on social media against the beheaded teacher. This group promoted an “anti-republican ideology that spread hatred,” according to government spokesman Gabriel Attal. The government also ordered the closure of the Pantin mosque, whose officials spread the videos of the father against the teacher. Attal confirmed the start of the expulsion procedure for some 230 radicalized foreigners.
“We will win in unity,” Prime Minister Jean Castex told the Senate. Criticisms of Macron come, for now, from Los Republicanos, the traditional right-wing party, and from the extreme right of Marine Le Pen’s National Regroup. They urge you to move from words to actions, or call for measures against the Islamic veil or more limits on immigration. The left has closed ranks with the Government, although these days, in the majority of the government, harsh reproaches are heard against those who some contemptuously qualify as “Islamo- left ” , the left that supposedly has preferred to fight against the so-called Islamophobia than in defense of secularism
There is also an incipient legal debate that may explain why the closure of organizations like the CCIF is taking longer than Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin seemed to want when he announced it on Monday . “We all have a legitimate emotion. The exploitation of this emotion for political purposes disgusts me, ”said Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti. Surely he was referring to criticism from the right and the extreme right, but his words could be understood as a call for temperance.
The Sorbonne ceremony was a moment of republican liturgy that can unite a country and that, at the very least, serve to identify what it is, or what it wants to be. Christophe Capuano, a friend of Paty, read the “letter to the teachers” of the legendary socialist Jean Jaurès, published in 1888: “You have in your hands the intelligence and the soul of children; you are responsible for the homeland ”.
Dahlia, a 14-year-old student, read the letter that the writer Albert Camus wrote to his school teacher, Louis Germain, after winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957: “If you, without this affectionate hand that extended to the poor little boy who I was, his teaching and his example, none of this would have happened ”. “We will continue this fight for freedom and reason,” promised Macron, married to a retired teacher, “because in France, teacher, the lights never go out.”