Teacher suspended in France after saying Muslim students were ‘a problem’ in Catholic schools

A teacher at a Catholic school in France was banned yesterday after fearing he could become ‘the next Samuel Paty’ over alleged racist remarks against Muslim students.

Catholic school eco-management teacher Joseph-Wresinski d’Angers was accused of racism by a Muslim student, who claims the teacher invited him to “change religion” after stating that Muslims are a problem in Catholic schools.

The student filed a formal complaint against the teacher – who has not yet been named – with the Angers police on Dec. 2, two days after the teacher’s alleged comments.

In return, the teacher filed a complaint the next day, arguing that the student had engaged in “physical and verbal abuse of a person in the course of public service,” while pushing past him and accusing him of racism.

The school yesterday suspended the teacher as a precaution after fearing he would become “the next Samuel Paty” – a history teacher who was murdered by a Muslim teenager on Oct. 16, 2020, after he portrayed a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed during a lesson about freedom of speech.

An investigation into the complaints has now been launched, according to the Public Prosecutor of Angers, Public Prosecutor Eric Bouillard.

An eco-management teacher at Joseph-Wresinski d’Angers Catholic School (pictured) has been accused of racism by a Muslim student and subsequently suspended pending an investigation

The teacher, who has not been named, expressed fears that he would become

The teacher, who has not been named, expressed fears that he would become “the next Samuel Paty” – a history teacher who was murdered outside a school near Paris in October 2020 for showing cartoons of the prophet Mohammed in a lesson (undated photo of Paté)

Schoolchildren wearing protective face masks arrive to pay tribute to Samuel Paty, the French teacher who was beheaded on the streets of the Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, at Anne Franck College in Plescop, France, November 2, 2020

Schoolchildren wearing protective face masks arrive to pay tribute to Samuel Paty, the French teacher who was beheaded on the streets of the Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, at Anne Franck College in Plescop, France, November 2, 2020

The story began during a school lesson on Nov. 30, when students in the class said that the teacher was beginning to wander as he talked about Catholic schools of the past.

The teacher is said to have commented, “Catholic schools should have continued to accept only Catholic students,” but got a defense from a class member who, pointing to a Muslim classmate, replied “but Catholic schools aren’t just reserved for Catholics.”

According to the Muslim student’s testimony, the teacher snapped back by saying, “That’s the problem,” before turning on him and saying, “Well, he can always change his religion.”

A portrait of French teacher Samuel Paty is displayed on the facade of the Opera Comedie in Montpellier on October 21, 2020, during a national tribute to the teacher who was beheaded for showing cartoons of the prophet Mohammed in class.

A portrait of French teacher Samuel Paty is displayed on the facade of the Opera Comedie in Montpellier on October 21, 2020, during a national tribute to the teacher who was beheaded for showing cartoons of the prophet Mohammed in class.

The Muslim student was enraged by the teacher’s reaction and stormed out of the classroom, reportedly pushed past the teacher and ‘racist!’ when he got out.

The teacher, meanwhile, has admitted to “inviting Muslims to join us and become Catholics,” but said the comment was intended as humor and “just didn’t appeal to the class.”

He argued that the comments were made during a discussion of the legal history of France, of which Catholicism and Christianity were a major part, and that they were made in jest and not as part of a discriminatory attack on Muslim students.

“I’ve been teaching for 27 years and this is the first time I’ve been in a situation like this,” the teacher told a local newspaper.

‘It does not make any sense. The student thought it appropriate to file a complaint – I offered to talk to him and his parents, but they categorically refused.’

French President Emmanuel Macron leaves after paying his respects at the coffin of murdered teacher Samuel Paty in the courtyard of Sorbonne University during a national memorial rally, Wednesday, October 21, 2020 in Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron leaves after paying his respects at the coffin of murdered teacher Samuel Paty in the courtyard of Sorbonne University during a national memorial rally, Wednesday, October 21, 2020 in Paris

An image taken from local French television of the aftermath of Samuel Paty's stabbing last October

An image taken from local French television of the aftermath of Samuel Paty’s stabbing last October

Anthony Bélangé, the principal of the school in Angers, said: ‘Conflicts between staff and students can occur, but the complaints have taken this to a new level.

“This is quite an emotionally charged situation and I have asked the students in the class to write factual testimony of the events, which will be sent to the research team.”

Bélangé went on to say that the incident was the first time he had seen problems with the teacher in question, but that the school had suspended him as a precaution during the investigation.

He insisted the suspension was intended to “maintain the integrity of the teacher, who fears for his life, and to maintain the presumption of innocence during the investigation.”

“20 percent of our students are young Muslims,” he continued.

“We all live very peacefully together. We defend secularism and respect for everyone’s faith.’

The French republic has a strictly secular tradition, especially in the education system, but the country is home to about five million Muslims – the largest Muslim minority of any EU member state.

.