Man who praised French teacher’s murder jailed in UK

LONDON (AFP): A man who praised the killer of French teacher Samuel Paty and posted images of his severed head was on Thursday sentenced by a UK court to five and a half years in jail.

Ajmal Shahpal, 41, was convicted in March at Birmingham Crown Court for posting tweets which would encourage people “to commit, prepare or instigate acts of terrorism.”

On Twitter, Shahpal had described the killer of Paty, a French secondary school teacher who was murdered by an extremist in October 2020, “as brave as a lion.”

He also posted an image of the severed head of Paty lying on the street, saying that “the insolent had been sent to hell.”

“You expressed extreme Muslim ideology, which included the immediate murder by beheading of anyone considered to have committed blasphemy against your religion,” judge Melbourne Inman said at the sentencing.

Shahpal was arrested in March 2021 at his home in Nottingham, central England, after he tweeted messages backing a Pakistan-based political party which advocated the killing of supposed blasphemers.

Some of his tweets were published to his public account in September 2020, a day after a second attack targeting the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

During the trial, Shahpal claimed that he was retweeting other people’s views “just to have some more followers.”