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Students pay tribute to beheaded French teacher who feared for his safety after teaching a lesson about freedom of expression

  • The French teacher who was beheaded by an 18-year-old man on Friday after teaching his pupils about freedom of speech has been identified as Samuel Paty. 
  • Paty had shown his pupils a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad while discussing the Charlie Hebdo case in a lesson that was part of an obligatory "moral and civil education" course.
  • Tributes have been pouring in for Paty, who has been described by his students as someone who "loved his job."
  • The incident, which occurred in the northwestern Parisian suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, has shocked the country and prompted the hashtag #JeSuisSamuel to go viral on social media.
  • The lesson prompted several Muslim parents to issue complaints to the school and Paty to receive a number of unspecified threats had him "concerned for his safety."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Tributes have been pouring in for the French teacher who was beheaded on Friday afternoon after teaching his pupils about freedom of speech and showing them controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Samuel Paty, a 47-year-old history teacher at College du Bois d'Aulne, was attacked in the northwestern Parisian suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine on Friday afternoon by an 18-year-old man who was later shot dead by police.

The brutal attack has shocked the country as the hashtag #JeSuisSamuel (I am Samuel) began trending on social media, similar to the #JeSuisCharlie movement that went viral after the 2015 attack on the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. 

Earlier this month, Paty had shown his pupils a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad while discussing the Hebdo case in a lesson that was part of an obligatory "moral and civil education" course that all primary and secondary French schools have in their curriculum.

He gave Muslim students the opportunity to leave the classroom if they thought they might be offended, according to multiple media reports.

 

The history teacher's lesson however, sparked complaints from several Muslim parents. One family lodged a legal complaint while the father of a 13-year-old girl who chose not to leave the class posted a YouTube video complaining about the teacher.

In the video, the father said that Paty had shown a "photo of a naked man" claiming he was the "Muslim prophet," according to the Guardian. He also called Paty a "voyou" (thug) and asked other parents to join him in collective action against the teacher.

The video has since been removed.

Paty had received several unspecified threats in the days following the lesson. He had been "concerned for his safety," another teacher at the school said, according to The Sun.

Heartbroken colleagues and students laid white roses in front of the school on Saturday to pay tribute to the teacher, described as someone who "really loved his job."

Some teachers at the school were holding signs reading "Je Suis Enseignant" ("I am a teacher").

One of Paty's former students, Martial, 16, said Paty "really wanted to teach us things — sometimes we had debates," according to the BBC.

"When I saw 'teacher — Bois d'Aulne — beheading', I made the direct link: 'it's Mr. Paty'," said the 16-year-old who had run to school from his soccer training on Friday after he heard about the attack, according to the Huffington Post

Another former student, Nathan, described Paty as being a "small" man who had short brown hair and glasses and "always had a nice shirt," the Huffington Post reported.

Parents also took to social media to pay their respects. One father wrote on Twitter that his daughter "is in pieces, terrorized by the violence of such an act. How will I explain to her the unthinkable?" the BBC reported.

Politicians have also condemned the brutal attack, with Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer saying on Saturday that France would "never back down when confronted by terror, intimidation," according to the BBC.

President Macron, who went to the scene on Friday night, told reporters that Paty had been a "victim of an Islamist terrorist attack" because he "taught the freedom of expression, of believing and not believing," according to Sky News.

Muslim leaders in the country have also come forward to condemn the attack. "A civilization does not kill an innocent person, barbarism does," Tareq Oubrou, imam of a mosque in Bordeaux, said, according to the BBC.

A national tribute will be held for the teacher, the French presidency has said. 

Nine people have been arrested, including the suspect's grandfather, his 17-year-old brother, and the parents of a child at Paty's school.

Police say the suspect was an 18-year-old man who was born in Moscow and was of Chechen origin. He had a petty criminal record and was not known to the country's intelligence service.

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Saudi Arabia failed to win a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, while China and Russia were voted in with ease

  • Saudi Arabia has failed to win a seat on the UN's Human Rights Council, while China, Russia, and Cuba were elected to join the body.
  • The UN General Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, voted in 15 countries to the 47-member council on Tuesday, Reuters reported.
  • Saudi Arabia and China are considered some of the world's worst human-rights abusers.
  • In Saudi Arabia, homosexuality merits the death penalty and many activists are jailed or tortured for sedition.
  • China has interned some 1 million Uighur Muslims in detention camps since 2016 and cracked down on dissent in Hong Kong.
  • US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed the appointment of China and Russia, saying the "elections only further validate the US decision to withdraw." The US quit the rights council in 2018.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Saudi Arabia has failed to win a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, while China and Russia acceded with little opposition.

On Tuesday, 15 countries were elected to the 47-member council in a secret ballot held by the UN's General Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, Reuters reported.

Four seats were available in the Asia-Pacific category, but Saudi Arabia lost out to China, Pakistan, Nepal, and Uzbekistan. Russia and Cuba also won seats on the council after running unopposed, the Associated Press reported.

Despite several significant steps taken toward a more equal society in recent years, Saudi Arabia is still considered one of the world's worst human-rights abusers.

Women do not have equal status with men, homosexuality is still punishable with the death penalty, activists are muzzled and detained, and its courts dispense barbaric punishments to convicted criminals.

Since 2015, the kingdom has backed a bloody civil war in Yemen, in which at least 100,000 people have died.

Members of the UN human rights council can only serve two consecutive terms, with Saudi Arabia last losing its seat in 2019. It previously hung onto a seat in 2016, despite widespread opposition over the war in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia received 90 votes on Tuesday which, according to Reuters, was 40% down on 2016.

But China and Russia, also considered amongst the world's worst abusers of human rights, were admitted to the council on Tuesday.

Russia, which lost its seat on the human rights council in 2016, has been accused of violating human rights for years.

"Russia's human rights record continued to deteriorate, with the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly consistently restricted, in law and practice," according to Amnesty International.

"Those attempting to exercise these rights faced reprisals, ranging from harassment to police ill-treatment, arbitrary arrest, heavy fines and in some cases criminal prosecution and imprisonment."

Most recently, in late August 2020, Russia attempted to kill opposition leader Alexei Navalny with Novichok nerve agent. Navalny has accused President Vladimir Putin of being behind the poisoning.

China, too, has a woeful human rights record.

Most notably, China has been vilified for imprisoning at least 1 million Uighur Muslims in a series of camps, euphemistically called "reeducation centers" since 2016.

In the camps, detainees are brainwashed and made to adopt Chinese culture. Birth rates among Uighurs have plummeted since 2017, with reports of forced abortions, forced sterilizations, and limits on family sizes.

On October 8, Human Rights Watch called on member states to block the passage for Saudi Arabia and China in the face of flagrant rights violations.

"Saudi Arabia and China have a history of using their seats on the Human Rights Council to prevent scrutiny of their abuses and those by their allies," the body said.

Louis Charbonneau, the UN director of Human Rights Watch, told Reuters following the vote: "Saudi Arabia's failure to win a seat on the Human Rights Council is a welcome reminder of the need for more competition in UN elections."

"Had there been additional candidates, China, Cuba and Russia might have lost too."

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed the appointments of China and Russia. 

"The UN General Assembly once again elected countries with abhorrent human rights records. These elections only further validate the US decision to withdraw and use other venues and opportunities to protect and promote universal human rights," he said.

The US quit the UN Human Rights Council in June 2018, calling it a "hypocritical" body that "makes a mockery of human rights."

China's accession to the council is the latest example of how it is seeking to increase its international influence by joining or backing high-profile institutions.

In May 2020, China pledged $2 billion to the World Health Organization, following the news that the US – which has throughout the coronavirus pandemic accused the agency of pandering to Beijing — would leave the group in 2021.

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3 congressmen flew on a commercial Delta flight after a journey on Air Force One with President Trump

  • Three Minnesota congressmen are facing backlash for taking a commercial Delta flight just two days after being on Air Force One with President Donald Trump. 
  • Reps. Pete Stauber, Tom Emmer, and Jim Hagedorn flew on the same flight to Washington DC on Friday night, several hours after Trump tested positive for the coronavirus.
  • "These congressmen's stupidity and disregard for the well-being of their fellow passengers is staggering," said Chairman of the state Democratic party, Ken Martin.
  • Hagedorn responded to the criticism, claiming the men had informed the airline of the situation beforehand and that it was Delta's "decision to fly based upon the facts."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Three Minnesota congressmen are being criticized for flying on a commercial Delta flight on Friday, just two days after traveling with President Donald Trump on Air Force One.

Reps. Pete Stauber, Tom Emmer, and Jim Hagedorn flew on the same plane to Washington DC on Friday night, several hours after Trump tested positive for the coronavirus.

Delta Airlines has a policy that states customers who know they've been exposed to the virus within the last 14 days are not permitted to travel on any of their aircraft.

Chairman of the state Democratic party Ken Martin told the Minnesota Star Tribune: "These congressmen's stupidity and disregard for the well-being of their fellow passengers is staggering."

Hagedorn responded to the criticism on his Facebook page on Saturday, writing: "We were not exposed to COVID (15 minutes and within 6 feet of close contact) and we were tested and received 'negative' results prior to flying home to Minnesota yesterday."

Congressman Hagedorn also claimed that the men had informed the airline and the flight's captain of the situation beforehand and that it was Delta's "decision to fly based upon the facts," according to the post. 

Emmer's office reiterated Hagedorn's point and issued a statement on Saturday saying that he and the other's "strictly adhered" to medical guidance, wearing face masks and practicing social distancing, according to the Star Tribune.

The flight was less than 40% full and no one left the plane in protest before it took off, according to Delta spokeswoman Gina Laughlin, who spoke to the Star Tribune.

Another spokesperson for the company told the Star Tribune that there was "a conversation with passengers" about the congressmen being present, however several passengers on the flight have said they weren't made aware of the situation.

Laura Cederberg, a former aide to former Gov. Mark Dayton, tweeted that she was on the flight and had seen Stauber, but "had no idea" the other two men were on board.

 

Another passenger on the flight, who asked not to be named, told the Star Tribune there had been no such conversation and that he was not given the option to disembark. He added that he would have done so if he had known about the situation.

Delta told Business Insider in an e-mail that it has reached out to employees who worked on the flight to understand exactly what transpired.

All three congressmen later tested negative for COVID-19.

The White House is experiencing a major coronavirus outbreak that has resulted in at least 10 GOP officials testing positive for the virus. Here is a running list.

President Trump announced he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for the coronavirus early on Friday morning.

He is being treated at Walter Reed Hospital, and in his latest video message, he said he was "starting to feel good" but that the coming days will be "the real test."

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China is cracking down on yet another Muslim minority — the 10,000-person island Utsul community — while continuing its crusade against Uighurs

  • China is cracking down on another mainly-Muslim ethnic group, the Utsuls, according to the South China Morning Post.
  • They are a group of around 10,000 who reside in Sanya, a city on the southern Hainan island, and are predominantly Muslim.
  • Last month, Beijing banned the hijab and long skirt worn by Utsuls in schools and government buildings, according to party documents seen by the Post.
  • The news comes as China continues to persecute Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. 
  • Since 2016, at least 1 million Uighurs have been interned in hundreds of detention camps, where they are forced to adopt Chinese culture and sometimes work on production lines.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

China has brought in new measures subjugating yet another Muslim ethnic group, the Utsuls, the South Morning Post reported this week, as the country continues to surveil and detain Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

The Utsuls, a group of around 10,000 who reside in Sanya, a city on the southern Hainan island, are predominantly Muslim.

Last month, the Chinese Community Party issued an order banning traditional Utsul dress — namely the hijab and a long skirt — in schools and government buildings, according to party documents seen by the Post.

The document was titled "Working Document regarding the strengthening of overall governance over Huixin and Huihui Neighbourhood," referring to the two areas on Sanya in which most of the Utsuls live.

Among the new regulations are requirements for new mosques to be smaller, a vaguely-worded ban on buildings with "Arabic tendencies," a ban on Arabic script on shop fronts, and a ban on placing the Mandarin characters for "halal" and "Islamic" on premises, the Post reported.

Bitter Winter, an Italy-based website that covers human rights in China, has also published a full copy of the regulations.

"The official line is that no ethnic minority can wear traditional garments on school grounds but other ethnic minorities [in Sanya] don't wear traditional garments in their daily life," an Utsul community worker told the Post.

"It makes no difference to them but to us the hijab is an integral part of our culture, if we take it off it's like stripping off our clothes," the worker added.

Small protests broke out last month in the two neighborhoods of Sanya where Utsuls live, the newspaper said, adding that a photo on social media "showed a group of girls wearing headscarves reading from text books outside Tianya Utsul primary school while surrounded by police officers."

China is erasing the culture of a number of ethnic minorities as part of President Xi Jinping's plan to create a unified China, where religion and culture come second to the Communist Party.

In Xinjiang, China's most westerly province, at least 1 million Uighur Muslims and other ethnic groups have been detained in hundreds of camps masquerading as "reeducation centres." There they are brainwashed and, in some cases, forced to work on production lines.

Detainees have been forced to sing propaganda songs for their food and repeat lines in praise of Xi. Reports have also shown that the Uighur birth rate has plummeted since 2017 as a result of forced sterilizations, child quotas, and forced abortions.

China says its policies in the region are defensible, and claimed without evidence last year that those detained have "graduated" and been released. Researchers have, however, found dozens of new suspected detention centers still being built or expanded this year.

China has also sought to erode the identity of the Hui Muslim population, China's third-largest ethnic minority.

A NPR investigation found that, since April 2018, Hui mosques have been shuttered, Hui schools razed, and many community leaders jailed in the Ningxia region in northern China, where most Huis live. 

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