French Police Question 10-Year-Olds Who Voiced Support for Teacher Beheading

November 8, 2020 Updated: November 8, 2020

Four 10-year-old schoolchildren have been questioned by French police after they openly voiced support for the beheading of a schoolteacher who showed caricatures of Muslim Prophet Muhammad in class and said they would kill their own teacher if he did the same.

The children expressed support for the Oct. 16 terrorist murder of French history teacher Samuel Paty on Nov. 2, when French schools held a nationwide minute of silence to honor the slain teacher, Interior Ministry spokeswoman Camille Chaize said in a video statement on Nov. 6.

Paty was beheaded in broad daylight outside his school near Paris by an 18-year-old Moscow-born Chechen refugee, after the teacher showed Muhammad caricatures in a class on freedom of expression.

The 10-year-olds “justified the teacher’s assassination by arguing that it was forbidden to offend the prophet and adding that they would kill their teacher if he caricatured the prophet,” Chaize said.

The coffin of slain teacher Samuel Paty
The casket of slain teacher Samuel Paty is laid in the courtyard of the Sorbonne university during a national memorial event, in Paris on Oct. 21, 2020. (Francois Mori/Pool via Reuters)

The children and their parents were detained and questioned for several hours on Nov. 5 by police in the Alpine town of Albertville. They were released after judicial authorities ordered “educative training” for them, the ministry said.

France has suffered a series of Islamic terrorist attacks in recent weeks. On Oct. 29, a 21-year-old Tunisian man shouting “Allahu akbar” beheaded an elderly woman and killed two other people in a church in the southern French city of Nice.

Paying tribute to the victims on Nov. 7, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said the enemy is “radical Islamism,” which “benefits from support overseas but, alas, also counts French citizens in its ranks.”

The radicalization of young Muslims has become a serious social and security issue plaguing multiple European countries.

On Nov. 2, Kujtim Fejzulai, a 20-year-old dual citizen of Austria and North Macedonia, fired at crowds at six different locations in Vienna, killing four people and wounding 22, before he was shot dead by police.

Vienna terror
A woman lights a candle at a makeshift memorial at the scene of Monday’s terror attack in Vienna, Austria, on Nov. 5, 2020. (Thomas Kronsteiner/Getty Images)

On Nov. 6, a teacher in the Netherlands was forced into hiding after some students objected to a political cartoon concerning Islam displayed in his classroom.

Rotterdam police said they had arrested an 18-year-old girl on suspicion that she posted a message on social media that “incited others to commit crimes” directed at the teacher and the school.

In Belgium, two teenagers aged 16 and 17 who had pledge allegiance to the ISIS terrorist group were arrested on Oct. 31 on suspicion of planning a stabbing attack against police officers.

Mimi Nguyen Ly, Reuters, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.