LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Depicting the prophet, a French teacher's death and free speech

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Flowers in front of the school where murdered school teacher Samuel Paty taught. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)
Flowers in front of the school where murdered school teacher Samuel Paty taught. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

Mohamed Saeed writes that the beheading of a teacher in France is unacceptable but it is also unacceptable to claim that showing offensive Charlie Hebdo caricatures of Prophet Muhammad is part of free speech.


The murder of Samuel Paty is unacceptable and is not something that has come from the books and teachings of Islam.

Similarly, I don't see it as acceptable to show such offensive Charlie Hebdo caricatures of Prophet Muhammad to students, either. I cannot understand the merits to use such cartoons, which does not have any literary or academic value, to teach a lesson on "free speech".

The cartoons besides being grossly inflammatory and upsetting to Muslims, promote hate, discrimination, xenophobia, colonialism and puts religious peace at risk.

The blatant hypocrisy of some global leaders in the application of democratic values such as freedom of expression is unashamedly clear.

When Turkish President Erdogan questioned President Emmanuel Macron's mental health after his speech on the Muslim world, the French government took offence and recalled its ambassador to Turkey. Where is the concept of "free speech"?

The teacher, as a facilitator of knowledge and interpreter and designer of learning programmes as well as materials, should have known better.

A discussion and reflection on the topic without showing such despicable images or use a neutral picture would have gone well.

Sensitive and challenging topics always come up in classrooms. The teacher needs to read the class, the curriculum, the constitution and universal human values and proceed with the lesson. A teacher's task is to provide a comfortable and safe place for quality learning and teaching to take place.

- Mohamed Saeed, Pietermaritzburg

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