Teenager says she lied about being in class when Samuel Paty showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, and her father amplified the matter online, seemingly motivating Paty’s killer

By AFP

PARIS (AFP) – A 13-year-old student, who earlier claimed that she was part of the class in which Samuel Paty, the French teacher who was beheaded outside his school in Paris last year, showed cartoons of Prophet Muhammad, has now backtracked on her claims, her lawyer said on Monday (March 8).

The girl had claimed the teacher, Mr Samuel Paty, who was beheaded by an Islamic extremist in the street in October last year, had asked Muslims to leave the class when he showed the cartoons, admitted in custody that she lied and that she had not attended the free speech course offered by the professor, according to the French daily newspaper Le Parisien.

The portrait of slain teacher Samuel Paty with a black ribbon is displayed Tuesday, Oct.20, 2020 on the steps of the National Assembly in Paris. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)

Reports suggested that Samuel Paty, although, described by his pupils and their parents as “caring and professional”, was killed after becoming the “target of an angry campaign on social media”.

A part of that angry social media campaign was a video posted on Facebook by the father of this 13-year-old student demanding the resignation of the professor prior to his assassination.

The girl’s father later lodged a legal complaint and amplified the allegations online, leading an 18-year-old Chechen refugee to track down Mr Paty in the town of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, south-west of Paris.

“She lied because she felt trapped in a spiral because her classmates had asked her to be a spokesperson,” her lawyer, Mr Mbeko Tabula, said on Monday, confirming a report from the Parisien newspaper.

Mr Paty showed the cartoons, which were first published in the Charlie Hebdo magazine and are deemed offensive by many Muslims, during a civics class in which students debated free speech and blasphemy.

The schoolgirl, who had already been threatened with expulsion because of disciplinary problems, was not in the class.

A Republican Guard holds a portrait of Samuel Paty in the courtyard of the Sorbonne university during a national memorial event, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020 in Paris. French history teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, northwest of Paris, by a 18-year-old Moscow-born Chechen refugee, who was later shot dead by police. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, Pool)

She has since been charged with slander, while her father and another man, an Islamist preacher and campaigner, have been charged with “complicity in murder” over the killing.

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