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Tribute to Samuel Paty – for a secular public education

Two years ago, on 16 October 2020, Samuel Paty was murdered by an Islamist fanatic, beheaded in front of his school. This history and geography teacher in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine died for doing his job: educating his students to exercise their freedom and reason, through the acquisition of knowledge and the exercise of free inquiry. 

Today, we join the tribute paid to Samuel Paty in French schools.

In Belgium, as in France, teachers too often face threats and intimidation to avoid discussing sensitive subjects.

A field study by Centre d’Action Laïque showed the extent of the phenomenon. A significant proportion of teachers admit to having already censored themselves in subjects such as the study of religions, secularism, science… Gender equality and the equal rights of LGBT+ people are also often contested.

The second hour of philosophy and citizenship in Belgian State-run schools is a great step forward for social cohesion and the exercise of free inquiry, but it must be allowed to take place in good conditions.

It is urgent to resist the pressures that threaten violence against teachers and compromise the fulfilment of their mission, to the detriment of the pupils.

We call for a clear commitment of political leaders to schools that assume its function of social emancipation and education of free and enlightened citizens.