France to crack down on online posts after teacher’s murder

A person holds a picture of Samuel Paty, the French teacher who was beheaded on the streets of the Paris suburb of Conflans St Honorine, during a tribute in Lille, France October 18, 2020. Paty’s killing has prompted an outpouring of emotion in France, with tens of thousands taking part in rallies countrywide in defence of free speech and the right to mock religion. — Reuters pic
A person holds a picture of Samuel Paty, the French teacher who was beheaded on the streets of the Paris suburb of Conflans St Honorine, during a tribute in Lille, France October 18, 2020. Paty’s killing has prompted an outpouring of emotion in France, with tens of thousands taking part in rallies countrywide in defence of free speech and the right to mock religion. — Reuters pic

PARIS, Oct 23 — France said today it would crack down on social media posts that put people in danger by divulging their personal details, a week after the murder of a teacher targeted in an online campaign over Prophet Muhammad cartoons.

Samuel Paty was killed for showing cartoons of the Prophet to his class by 18-year-old Chechen Abdullakh Anzorov last Friday.

In the run-up to the murder, the parent of one of Paty’s students and a known Islamist radical had run a social media campaign against the teacher.

Prosecutors said their posts contained the teacher’s name as well as the address of the school, allowing his killer to find him.

Both have been charged with complicity in a terrorist murder.

Castex said a pending draft law defending secular values against radical Islam — known as an anti-separatism law — would now be amended to allow the prosecution of anybody who posts personal details online if this “threatens the life of another”.

Castex said he would submit the additions to the French cabinet in December

Once voted into law, the provision will allow “the punishment of those who post personal information, thus threatening the life of a person, for example a teacher”, Castex said after today’s session of the French defence council.

The bill will also allow the prosecution of those who “put pressure” on public servants, Castex said, “with words or actions as was the case against Mr Paty and the head of the school in Conflans-Saint-Honorine”, the Paris suburb where the murder took place.

Paty’s killing has prompted an outpouring of emotion in France, with tens of thousands taking part in rallies countrywide in defence of free speech and the right to mock religion.

Seven people have been charged in connection with the murder and police have carried out dozens of raids against alleged Islamist sympathisers.

Castex said today that police had arrested 27 people over illegal online posts in recent days after raids on 56 homes.

Dozens more raids were planned, he said. — AFP

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