Macron pays tribute to murdered French school teacher at memorial

Samuel Paty, 43, was beheaded by a radicalised Russian national last week

French President Emmanuel Macron has paid tribute to "quiet hero" Samuel Paty, the schoolteacher who was beheaded by a terrorist last Friday after showing his pupils caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.

At a national memorial at the Sorbonne University in central Paris, Mr Macron praised the history teacher as the “face of the Republic” who “believed in knowledge".

Paty, 47, was murdered by Abdullakh Anzorov, 18, a Russian national of Chechen origin who had become radicalised.

Police killed Anzorov shortly after the attack.

“Samuel Paty became the face of the Republic, of our will to shatter terrorists ... to live like a community of free citizens in our country,” Mr Macron said. “We will continue.”

A ceremonial military guard carried the Paty’s coffin into the cobblestone courtyard of the Sorbonne where the memorial took place before his family, government members and select guests.

The stirring ceremony included a poem by Albert Camus to his own teacher.

It came hours after the prosecutor gave details of how the teenager came to kill Paty, with the suspected help of two young pupils at the school in the north-west Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine.

Jean-Francois Ricard said two pupils, aged 14 and 15, were among seven people taken before an investigating magistrate, accused of “complicity in murder in relation with a terrorist undertaking” and “criminal conspiracy".

The killer offered pupils at the school where Paty taught between €300 ($355) and €350 to help him identify the teacher, Mr Ricard said.

“The investigation has established that the perpetrator knew the name of the teacher, the name of the school and its address, yet he did not have the means to identify him,” he said.

“That identification has only been possible with the help of students from the same school.”

Mr Ricard said the involvement of the two pupils “appeared to be conclusive.”

Anzorov, a Moscow-born Chechen refugee, claimed responsibility in a text accompanied by a photograph of the victim, which was found on his phone.

The other suspects include a pupil’s father who posted videos on social media that called for action against the teacher, and an activist who helped the man to disseminate the messages, which identified Paty and gave the school’s address, Mr Ricard said.

Two more men, aged 18 and 19, are accused of accompanying the attacker when he bought the weapons, including a knife and an airsoft gun, the prosecutor said.

One of them allegedly drove Anzorov, who lived in the Normandy town of Evreux about 90 kilometres away, near the school about three hours before the killing.

Another suspect, 18, had close contacts with the attacker and endorsed radical Islam, Mr Ricard said.

All three of them, who were friends of Anzorov, allegedly said “he was "radicalising" for several months, marked by a change of behaviour, physical appearance, isolation and making comments about ISIS.

“Samuel Paty was the victim of a conspiracy of stupidity, hate, lies … hate of what we profoundly are,” Mr Macron said.

On Wednesday morning, the French government issued an order to dissolve a domestic pro-Hamas militant group, the Collective Cheikh Yassine.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said the group was “implicated, linked to Friday’s attack” and was used to promote anti-republican hate speech.

Other groups will be dissolved “in the coming weeks” for similar reasons, Mr Attal said.

Named after a slain leader of Hamas in Palestine, Collective Cheikh Yassine was founded in the early 2000s by the activist who is among the seven people accused of being accomplices.

Mr Attal said the government ordered a mosque in the north-east Paris suburb of Pantin to close for six months.

The mosque was being punished for relaying the angry father’s message on social media.

Authorities say its long-term imam followed the the strict Salafist path of Islam.

A national memorial event is scheduled to be held Wednesday evening in the courtyard of the Sorbonne university.

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