Home Today A Trainer, His Killer and the Failure of French Integration

A Trainer, His Killer and the Failure of French Integration


ÉVREUX, France — They might have simply shared the identical classroom — the immigrant teenager and the veteran instructor identified for his dedication to instilling the nation’s beliefs, in a relationship that had turned waves of newcomers into French residents.

However Abdoullakh Anzorov, 18, who grew up in France from age 6 and was the product of its public colleges, rejected these rules in a horrific crime that shocked and enraged France. Offended by cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad proven in a category on free speech given by the instructor, Samuel Paty, 47, the teenager beheaded him a week ago with a protracted knife earlier than being gunned down by the police.

France has paid national homage to Mr. Paty as a result of the killing was seen as an assault on the very basis — the instructor, the general public college — of French citizenship. Within the anger sweeping the nation, French leaders have promised to redouble their protection of a public academic system that performs a necessary function in shaping nationwide id.

The killing has underscored the growing challenges to that system as France grows extra racially and ethnically various. Two or three generations of newcomers have now struggled to combine into French society, the political institution agrees.

However the nation, broadly, has balked on the suggestion from critics, many within the Muslim neighborhood, that France’s mannequin of integration, together with its colleges, wants an replace or an overhaul.

President Emmanuel Macron’s emphatic protection of the caricatures has additionally led to ripples abroad. A number of Muslim nations, together with Kuwait and Qatar, have begun boycotting French items in protest. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey questioned Mr. Macron’s psychological well being in a speech, prompting France to recall its ambassador to Turkey.

Mr. Anzorov was the most recent product of France’s public colleges to show towards their beliefs: Two brothers who went to public colleges in 2015 attacked Charlie Hebdo, the satirical journal that revealed — and republished last month — caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

Jean-Pierre Obin, a former senior nationwide schooling official, mentioned that public colleges performed a number one function in “the cultural assimilation and political integration” of immigrant kids who “had been become good little French” and now not felt “Italian, Spanish, Portuguese or Polish.” Different establishments that additionally performed this function — the Catholic church, unions and political events — have been weakened, leaving solely the faculties, he mentioned.

“At the moment, public colleges can’t totally do that,” Mr. Obin mentioned. “However I don’t see one other mannequin — particularly the Anglo-Saxon mannequin of multiculturalism, which I don’t assume is extra profitable.”

The French mannequin bumped into obstacles when the immigrants had been now not European, white or Roman Catholic. At the moment about 10 % of France’s inhabitants is believed to be Muslim.

The push to assimilate dangers engendering a type of xenophobia within the broader inhabitants, mentioned Hakim El Karoui, a senior fellow on the Paris-based assume tank Institut Montaigne.

“The message is: ‘We don’t need your otherness as a result of we wish you to be like us,’” he mentioned.

The kids who fail to assimilate — and infrequently find yourself misplaced, feeling that they belong to neither France nor their ancestral international locations — embody the doubt “that our mannequin is just not the appropriate one,” Mr. El Karoui mentioned, a chance that the French “clearly discover insufferable.”

It was in colleges that immigrant kids discovered not solely correct French, but additionally the way to politely deal with academics as “Madame” or “Monsieur.” In addition they absorbed notions like secularism in a rustic the place, very similar to in the USA, beliefs type the idea of nationhood.

Not less than on paper, Mr. Anzorov appeared a superb candidate to suit into French society. A Russian of Chechen descent, he arrived in Paris when he was 6 and entered a public major college. When he was about 10, his household moved to Évreux, a metropolis in an economically depressed space about 55 miles west of Paris and residential to about 50 Chechen households, based on Chechens residing within the metropolis.

The Chechens largely stored to themselves in Madeleine, a poor neighborhood with different immigrants, who’re largely from former French colonies and whose integration is commonly difficult by France’s colonial legacy.

Mr. Anzorov attended a center college known as Collège Pablo Neruda that, hewing to the nationwide curriculum, additionally provided civics classes on secularism and freedom of expression. He lived in a rent-subsidized, five-story condo constructing together with his household, with a direct view of the native jail.

“He at all times handed in entrance of my place when going residence,” mentioned Ruslan Ibragimov, 49, a Chechen who arrived in Évreux 18 years in the past. “He was at all times alone, together with his backpack. Even when he would see me from afar, he’d come over to greet me. He by no means talked a lot.”

By no means a lot eager about his research, Mr. Anzorov was enthusiastic about mixed-martial arts, mentioned a 26-year-old Chechen who additionally practices the game. When he was 16 in 2018, Mr. Anzorov lived for some time in Toulouse, the place he had an uncle.

There, he joined a sports activities membership that had a Chechen coach and a superb fame amongst athletes, the 26-year-old mentioned, talking on the situation of anonymity as a result of he mentioned he feared reprisals towards Chechens.

“His purpose was to battle within the U.F.C.,” the 26-year-old mentioned, referring to the Final Combating Championship, a prime promoter of combined martial arts.

Situated in a public facility, the membership was investigated by the native authorities as a result of some members prayed within the locker room and requested ladies to cowl their legs and arms, based on the French information media.

In a rustic guided by strict secularism, such actions are a violation of French regulation and thought to be indicators of radicalization by the authorities — they usually have led to many sports activities golf equipment being positioned below surveillance.

However it was not identified what, if any, affect the membership exerted on Mr. Anzorov, who had not been on any terrorism watch listing.

Unsuccessful in Toulouse, Mr. Anzorov got here again to Évreux. His father, who specialised in organising safety for development websites and different companies, was encouraging his son to affix him, Mr. Ibragimov mentioned. The daddy had lately purchased his son a automotive, he added.

“However he couldn’t drive it but as a result of he nonetheless hadn’t gotten his driver’s license,” Mr. Ibragimov mentioned.

It was solely in latest months that {the teenager} had proven indicators of radicalization, mentioned the particular antiterrorism prosecutor, Jean-François Ricard. Mr. Anzorov’s transformation appeared to have performed out on-line, based on an evaluation by the French information web site Mediapart of a Twitter account that he created in June and that was deleted final week after his dying.

His posts on Twitter attacked a variety of targets — from Jews to Christians to the rulers of Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Paty was educating historical past and civics at a center college in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a middle-class Paris suburb, on the time of the assault.

“He’s the type of instructor who leaves his mark, by his gentleness and open-mindedness,” mentioned Maeva Latil, 21, who joined a tribute in entrance of the Jacques-Prévert center college, in a small village south of Paris, the place Mr. Paty taught between 2011 and 2018.

In historical past lessons, he used up to date examples — from Pink Floyd songs to a e book on racism by a soccer participant — to make his educating resonate together with his college students, mentioned Aurélie Davoust, 43, a former literature instructor at Jacques-Prévert.

“With him, there was actually this side: You don’t examine historical past to speak about lifeless issues, you examine historical past to change into a citizen,” she mentioned.

Mr. Paty was a robust believer in laïcité, the strict secularism that separates faith from the state in France. Ms. Davoust recalled Mr. Paty as soon as asking a younger lady sporting a cross round her neck in class to take it off.

“Our democracy was established towards the Catholic Church and the monarchy, and laïcité is the best way that democracy was organized in France,” mentioned Dominique Schnapper, a sociologist and president of the Council of the Sensible, a bunch created by the federal government in 2018 to strengthen laïcité in public colleges.

In a category on freedom of expression — together with the appropriate to say blasphemous issues about all religions — Mr. Paty used caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, Jesus and rabbis to show, former college students mentioned.

After his switch just a few years in the past to Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, in a Paris suburb with a extra various inhabitants, he appeared to regulate his strategy. When exhibiting caricatures, he started telling college students who may be offended that they may depart the classroom or look away.

On the new college, college students mentioned he confirmed largely caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that had been revealed by Charlie Hebdo. One of many two proven this month was titled “A star is born” and depicted Muhammad totally nude. That upset many Muslim college students and their dad and mom, based on the native chapter of PEEP, a nationwide dad and mom affiliation.

Mr. Paty mentioned he was stunned by the backlash and apologized to college students, mentioned Talia, a 13-year-old pupil who was current on the lecture.

“He advised us that he’s a instructor, that this class is a part of his program, that France is a secular nation and so is our college,” mentioned Talia, who requested that she be recognized by her first title solely given the sensitivity of the state of affairs.

One offended father complained in regards to the instructor in movies he uploaded on social media. Enraged, Mr. Anzorov, the Chechen teenager, traveled all the best way from Évreux to Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, almost 60 miles, to kill Mr. Paty.

“Did he by no means have dedicated academics? Or did he have them and he didn’t hear them?” Ms. Schnapper, the president of the Council of the Sensible, mentioned of Mr. Anzorov’s years in France’s public colleges. “We’ll by no means know. However it’s an indication of failure.”

Antonella Francini contributed reporting.


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