A teacher’s dedication to educating the youth left a wife without a husband and a son without a father. In the late afternoon hours of October 16th, a Chechen-born radical Islamist armed with a knife decapitated Samuel Paty outside the gates of Collège Bois-d’Aulne. The catalyst for this act of violence? Cartoons that Paty showed students in a class on free expression depicting the Islamic figure, Muhammad. Paty’s purpose for showing such cartoons in class was to educate students through illustration about the importance of freedom of speech, satire and secularism in French society.
The beheading of Samuel is an act of terror aimed at destroying the values of free society in France. The attack strikes at the nation’s integral values of liberty, equality, and fraternity (Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité). The imposition of a religious political project limits freedom of expression and free thought–making even cartoons of an Islamic figure punishable by death. The values of free society must be reaffirmed continuously not only in France but abroad as well.
The “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789)” article 11 articulates freedom of speech in the following way:
“The free communication…