Rouen, France – A high school English teacher in Rouen, France who began classes this morning by asking students to observe a moment of silence this morning in memory of Mohamed Merah, who died yesterday after a standoff with French police in Toulouse, was suspended as per the request of Luc Chatel, France’s Minister of Education.
A disciplinary panel will meet to determine whether the Department of Education will impose sanctions on the fifty six year old teacher, which could include being banned from teaching. A representative of the teachers’ union described the teacher as “a colleague who has health concerns and is fragile.”
According to French news site Le Express, the teacher called for the memorial, saying that that Merah was a “victim” and that any links between Merah and Al Qaeda had been invented by the media and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who requested a moment’s silence in schools all across France on Tuesday in memory of the victims of the Toulouse shooting. Fifteen out of twenty students in the class reportedly left the class to express their indignation and immediately wrote a letter to the headmaster to notify him of their concerns. According to published reports, one student who stayed in the classroom said that after the incident, the teacher, who has thirty two years experience, said that she was not well and might be in need of some time off.
Reports on French news site Paris-Normandie say that the teacher described Merah as “the victim of an unhappy childhood.” One parent, who hopes that the teacher will be dismissed said that if she is kept on, “I give permission for my daughter to boycott English classes until the end of the year.”
The school’s headmaster called today’s events “a sad incident” and said that an investigation into the matter is currently underway.
Luc Chatel, the Minister of Education condemned the teacher’s actions calling her actions “unspeakable” and requested that she be suspended immediately. A statement released by the Ministry of Education expressing his outrage, called for disciplinary actions to be taken against the teacher saying, “”this act alone does not obscure the dignity shown by the school as a whole throughout the week: honoring the victims of the killer of Toulouse.”
A Facebook page entitled “Homage to Mohamen Merah (Toulouse) was closed yesterday by the Ministry of Interior. An estimated four hundred and thirty five peopled had liked the page before it was disabled.