A French schoolgirl has admitted to spreading false claims about a teacher before he was murdered last year.
Samuel Paty was beheaded in October 2020 after showing students cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
The girl, whose complaints about the cartoons sparked an online campaign against Paty, has now admitted that she was not in the class when the alleged event happened.
Paty’s killing stunned France and led to an outpouring of support at memorial ceremonies and marches around the country.
#Samuelpaty trended throughout that period and now the 13-year-old girl, who originally told her father that Paty had asked Muslim students to leave the classroom while he showed the cartoon during a class on free speech and blasphemy, has now denied being in the classroom .
According to evidence given by the girl who is yet to be named, she said: “I didn’t see the cartoons, it was a girl in my class who showed me them.”
“She lied because she felt trapped in a spiral because her classmates had asked her to be a spokesperson,” her lawyer, Mbeko Tabula, told AFP news agency.
Remember that before the teacher’s beheading, the young girl’s father filed a legal complaint against the teacher and began a social media campaign over the incident based on his daughter’s account.
He identified Paty and the school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, west of Paris.
Prosecutors in France said shortly after the killing that there was a “direct causal link” between the online incitement against Paty and his murder.
The person who carried out the beheading, 18-year-old Abdullakh Anzorov, was shot dead by police shortly after the attack.
According to prosecutors this is the real version of events that occured;
As he had done in similar lessons on free speech in previous years, Paty warned students that he was about to show a depiction of Muhammad. He said anyone who thought they might be offended could close their eyes.
The girl originally claimed the teacher had asked Muslim pupils to leave the room. When she objected she was suspended from school, she said.
Prosecutors have now revealed that the girl was suspended the day before the class was given, because of repeated absence from school.
The girl in her leaked testimony, expalains that she made up the story so as not to disappoint her father.
Speaking on French radio on Tuesday, the Paty family’s lawyer said the girl’s family knew that she had not been in class on the day in question and why she had been suspended. “So to come and say now, sorry, I believed my daughter’s lies, that’s really weak,” Virginie Le Roy told RTL radio.
Depictions of the Prophet Muhammad are widely regarded as taboo in Islam, and are considered highly offensive by Muslims.
The issue is particularly sensitive in France because of the decision by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to publish cartoons of the Prophet.
Twelve people were killed by Islamist extremists at the magazine’s offices in 2015 after the images were published