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The headteacher of the Maurice Ravel Lycée thanked his colleagues for their support (file pic of school)
By Hugh Schofield
BBC News, París

There is indignation in France after the headteacher of a Paris school resigned because of fears for his life.

The head was sent death threats after he insisted that a teenage girl remove her Islamic head-covering inside the school, in accordance with French law.

His name has not been made public. Two people, who had no link with the school, have been detained.

The Islamist threat to French schools is taken extremely seriously since the murders of two teachers.

Samuel Paty was decapitated on the street in a Paris suburb in 2020 and Dominique Bernard was killed at his school in Arras five months ago.

The Paris school headteacher announced his decision in an email sent on Friday to colleagues at the Maurice Ravel Lycée in the 20th district of Paris.

“I have finally taken the decision to quit my functions,” he explained, “out of concern for my own safety and that of the establishment.”

“I leave after seven years, rich and intense, spent at your side, and after 45 years in public education,” he wrote, thanking his colleagues for the support they had shown him over the past three weeks.

In the incident, which took place on 28 February, the head told three female pupils they should obey the law by removing their head coverings.

Two complied, but the third did not and there was an altercation.

In the days that followed, the head was the object of death threats on social media, which were signalled by the school to an interior ministry hotline.

Police were sent to patrol around the school, which also received a visit from Education Minister Nicole Belloubet.

Education Minister Nicole Belloubet had earlier offered the headteacher her full support and sought to guarantee his safety

Politicians from both left and right expressed outrage that the career of a respected teacher should be ended by a hate campaign on the Internet.

“This government is incapable of protecting our schools,” said Marine Le Pen of the hard-right National Rally on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“It is defeat for the state… and the gangrene of Islamism gains yet more ground,” said her niece Marion Maréchal of the rival hard-right party Reconquest.

“This is where you end up when your policy is ‘don’t make waves’. This is where all those little surrenders lead to,” said Bruno Retailleau of the centre-right Republicans.

“It’s unacceptable. When a headteacher steps down because of death threats, it is a collective failure,” said Boris Vallaud of the Socialist Party.

In a separate development, several Paris schools were forced to close on Wednesday after they received bomb threats from apparent Islamists.

Last week around 30 other schools in the Paris area received similar threats, accompanied by a video of a beheading.

While investigators are obliged to take the threats seriously, they cannot rule out that they are part of a Russian disinformation campaign.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal warned earlier this month that the Kremlin had embarked on a “massive destabilisation enterprise” to undermine French support for Ukraine.

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