Rallies as school student is threatened over Charlie Hebdo tribute

SAINT-MAUR-DES-FOSSES, France (AFP) - Teachers and students at a French school rallied on Thursday in support of a student who received death threats for publishing an edition of the school newspaper in support of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Education authorities said that the school's security would be strengthened, saying "the internal vigilance will be reinforced", and that the high schooler will have special police protection "if needed".

The student, 17-year-old Louis, published a special edition of the paper in January after Islamists went on a killing spree on the streets of Paris that left 17 people dead and saw the capital gripped with fear for three days.

Two of the attackers stormed the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo killing 12 people, including journalists and police officers, and sparking a global outpouring in support of free speech.

The school paper edition - titled "Je Suis Charlie" ("I am Charlie") after the slogan that went viral following the attack - included poems, opinion pieces and drawings.

It did not include any of the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad published by Charlie Hebdo that had angered the Islamists.

"It was a tribute to the 17 victims without discrimination - for Jews, journalists, police officers," Louis, whose surname was not given, told AFP.

Police have opened an inquiry into the death threats against him, including seven letters in total, two of which contained bullets. The last one at the beginning of May "seemed like an ultimatum", Louis said.

On Thursday, students and teachers gathered at midday at the Marcellin-Berthelot high school on the outskirts of Paris to show their support for Louis, whose nerves have been shattered by the threats.

The 17-year-old's mother said she was deeply worried about the mental state of her son, who only sleeps a few hours a night, "won't go out in the street alone" and now carries two tear gas cannisters on him at all times.

"This has been going on for months," complained history teacher Pascale Morel.

"We didn't say anything at first while the (police) inquiry was being carried out, but nothing concrete has been done."

Riss, director and cartoonist at the Charlie Hebdo magazine, expressed his support for the student, saying that "someone who receives threats like this should be protected".

A judicial source told AFP the affair was being taken very seriously and a biological analysis of the letters was being carried out.

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