Two teenagers accused of pointing out French teacher Samuel Paty to his killer who beheaded him were on Wednesday charged with complicity in terrorist murder, prosecutors said, as the nation paid homage to the slain educator.
“We will not give up cartoons,” President Emmanuel Macron earlier told a solemn ceremony at the Sorbonne university in Paris attended by Paty’s family, who was targeted for having shown cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed in a civics class discussion on free speech early this month.
The president gave France’s highest civilian award, the Legion of Honour, to Paty and said he had been slain by “cowards” for representing the secular, democratic values of the French Republic.
“He was killed because Islamists want our future,” Macron said. “They will never have it.”
Earlier Wednesday anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said the two teenagers – aged 14 and 15 – had been in a group of pupils who shared 300-350 euros ($356-$414) offered by the killer to help find Paty.
The two stayed with the killer, Chechnya-born 18-year-old Abdullakh Anzorov, for more than two hours waiting for Paty even after he told them he wanted to “humiliate and strike” him over the Mohamed caricatures, seen as offensive by many Muslims, Ricard said.
Anzorov then killed Paty as he made his way home on foot from the junior high school where he taught in the suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine outside Paris.
The pair are among seven people authorities have charged over the killing.
The parent of one of Paty’s pupils, who started the social media campaign against the teacher even though his daughter was not in class when the cartoons were shown, was also charged with the same offence as the two teenagers, the national anti-terrorist prosecutor’s office said late on Wednesday.
Also charged was a known Islamist radical who helped the father in his campaign.
Paty, 47, became the target of an online hate campaign over his choice of lesson material – the same images which unleashed a bloody assault by Islamist gunmen on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January 2015.