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French teacher urges 'minute's silence for killer'

A French teacher faced disciplinary proceedings Friday for allegedly urging her class to observe a minute's silence for serial killer Mohamed Merah, the day after he was shot by police.

Education Minister Luc Chatel called for the teacher to be suspended after her class reported she had called Merah a "victim" and said his links to Al-Qaeda were invented by the media and "Sarko", referring to President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Student representatives in the final year class in the northern city of Rouen wrote to the principal to voice "shock" at being urged in an English lesson to pay respect to a self-declared Al-Qaeda militant who killed seven people.

Most of the class walked out, though some remained "to try to understand what she was talking about," their letter said.

She "clearly said that Mohamed Merah was a victim, that the link with Al-Qaeda had been invented by the media and 'Sarko'," said the letter, a copy of which was published by the Paris Normandie newspaper.

Police shot Merah dead on Thursday at his flat in southwest France where he was holed up after going on a jihadist-inspired killing spree. His victims included three young Jewish children and three paratroopers.

Following the attack on the Jewish children, schools around France held a minute's silence in their memory.

The teacher was not immediately available to comment.

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