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Terrorism: will France pass the test

Following the murder of a school teacher in a suburb of Paris, President Macron condemned the act, calling it a malicious Islamist terrorist act. A teacher named Samuel Pati was killed on Friday; in early October, he discussed with his disciples in class cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. As observers note, the alleged terrorist attack was another test for a society that has long been in a state of confusion and division. Journalists express fears that the authorities are reacting in the wrong way to the situation.

Protect social cohesion

On the evening of the teacher's murder, President Macron stressed that terrorists would not be able to split French society. If only everything were so simple, sociologist Jean-Francois Migneu writes on the pages of Telos:

“The crux of the problem is this: on the question of how to relate to heresy, all 'we' are already hopelessly at odds with our ideas. The Islamists know this and are working tirelessly to deepen this split in order to impose their theocratic, anti-democratic, and anti-liberal ideals on France, the West, and the whole world. If we want to protect our freedom of thought, speech, and learning, as well as what remains of our social and national cohesion, then we need to act decisively and immediately. ... The school has a central role in this process, and teachers should not be left to their own devices — which, unfortunately, happens too often now.“

Censorship is not the solution!

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanen announced that he intends to ban organizations that spread Islamist ideas on the Internet. This approach is risky, warns NRC Handelsblad:

“The fact that the state is checking organizations that sow discord on the Internet does not raise questions. But to announce right away that the state intends to ban these organizations is an affront just against the values that we are going to defend! Now, first of all, it is necessary to support teachers who are at a loss, not understanding what they can now and whatnot. ... A classroom is a place where everyone should have the right to independent learning and to learn to observe and think for themselves. Collision with unwanted images or texts is essential.“

School is the epitome of what terrorists hate

Liberation calls for the protection of the secular education system:

“On Friday night, the school was hit in the heart. And now there is no doubt that we must love, cherish and protect our school more than ever before ... School is a symbol of everything that terrorists despise so much: a symbol of freedom to express one's opinion, knowledge, science, discussion, exchange, culture, free will, acceptance of criticism, peaceful coexistence, despite all our differences. This is a symbol of a great many books instead of just one, whatever it is called. All of this became the target of the Islamist terrorist in the city of Conflans-Saint-Honorine, and we must defend all of this today more than ever before — in order to effectively fight against obscurantism, fanaticism, and barbarism.“

For Islamists, the doctrine comes only from Allah

Unfortunately, the school is by definition becoming the most important arena of conflict, says Ezio Mauro, a columnist for La Repubblica:

“The fact is that a school is a neutral, civic institution, which should instill in children a general idea of the world we are in and the country in which we live. ... But for radical Islamism, the only true teaching is the word of Allah, descending directly from heaven. ... This teaching is incompatible with general morality and civic practices that are broadcast in schools, courts, and in coexistence. But for the French tradition, the school since 1905 has been a melting pot of the republic, the heart of a secular state, in which the walls of classrooms are blank sheets, and everything so that students can develop their knowledge and understanding on their own, and not under the supervision of God — what whatever it was.“

Freedom of speech requires a high price

Fear for one's life keeps critics of Islam silent not only in France, but Expressen also emphasizes:

“The risk of spreading self-censorship is quite obvious. ... In Sweden, the artist Lars Wilks [depicting Muhammad as a dog] has been living in fear for his life for 13 years; since December 2010 he has been provided with personal protection. This says a lot about how high a price those who are willing to provoke extremists have to pay. However, Wilks does not receive really serious support. Colleagues from the cultural community stay away from him, and neighbors even complained that he lives next to them. ... In theory, almost everyone is ready to extol freedom of expression — but in practice, it shouldn't be too expensive. The terrorist attack in France concerns us too.“

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