In October, 47-year-old Paty was beheaded after allegedly showing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to his students and asking Muslim students to leave the room. The 13-year-old girl, who accused Paty of doing so and sparked an online campaign initially spearheaded by her father, now admits she was not in Paty’s class on the day she accused him of showing the images.
The girl, whose name has not been released, first shared the accusations with her father, alleging that Paty asked Muslim students to leave the room as he showed the images. The father then filed a legal complaint, identified Paty, and started a social media campaign against him. Prosecutors say there was a “direct causal link” between the social media response and Paty’s Oct. 16 murder, when 18-year-old Abdullakh Anzorov beheaded him before being shot by police.
“She lied because she felt trapped in a spiral because her classmates had asked her to be a spokesperson,” her lawyer, Mbeko Tabula, said.
Paty had actually warned students that he was going to show a depiction of Muhammad and told them they could close their eyes, but did not ask Muslim students to leave the classroom. The girl initially claimed she was suspended from school when she refused to leave, but she was actually suspended earlier because of her previous absences.
Paty’s death led to a national memorial on Oct. 21. President Emmanuel Macron presented France’s highest honor, the Légion d’honneur, to Paty’s family after the murder.