London: A French city defied Islamist terrorism by projecting huge images of Charlie Hebdo caricatures on a local government building Wednesday as heavily armed police officers stood guard.
The projections, which included caricatures of Prophet Mohammed, came as part of a French national tribute to middle-school teacher Samuel Paty which took place Wednesday evening.
Paty, a history teacher in the greater Paris area, was murdered Friday by a refugee Islamist terrorist after Paty showed caricatures of Prophet Mohammed to his students in a class on freedom of speech.
The images were projected onto two town halls in the Occitanie region – Montpellier and Toulouse – for four hours Wednesday evening.
Regional mayor, Carole Delga, was quoted by FranceBleu, a network of local and regional radio stations in France, and a part of the national public broadcasting group Radio France: “There must be no weakness in the face of the enemies of democracy, facing those who transform religion into a weapon of war… those who intend to destroy the Republic.”
In 2015, Islamist gunmen attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo and killed most of the paper’s editorial board for publishing caricatures of Prophet Muhammad.
The court cases surrounding the killings finally being heard this year led to another attempted attack in September 2020, with a new would-be killer attempting to attack the old offices of the paper again.
The latest attack over the Charlie Hebdo caricatures took place last week when Samuel Paty was beheaded after showing the drawings of Prophet Mohammed to his students in a freedom of speech class.
Paty’s beheading has prompted a strong response from the French government, including police raiding individuals and organisations that expressed support for the attack and attacker in the immediate aftermath of the beheading.
A well known mosque in a northern suburb of Paris was shut down by French authorities as part of their clampdown on Islamist groups and suspected extremists.
French President Emmanuel Macron is under pressure to come up with an effective response to the latest in a series of Islamist terror attacks that have rocked France since the 2015 Charlie Hebdo massacre.
More than 240 people have died from Islamist violence since 2015, prompting opposition politicians – particularly on the right – to accuse the government of waging a battle of words rather than taking decisive action.