French police launches operations against Islamic radicals after teacher’s beheading
French police have raided the homes of dozens of suspected Islamic radicals following the beheading of a teacher who showed controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to his pupils.
Some of those being questioned are believed to have posted messages of support for the killer of Samuel Paty.
History teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded on Friday outside his school on Paris’ northern outskirts after showing his pupils cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. His attacker, an 18-year-old Chechen, was shot dead by police shortly after the attack.
The gruesome killing has shocked France and prompted weekend protests across the country in support of freedom of speech.
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron described the crime as an “Islamist terrorist attack”.
The French government had already arrested nine people, including the parents of a child at the school where the teacher was working.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told Europe 1 radio that about 80 police investigations were underway into online hate messages that glorified the attack.
“There have already been arrests since Sunday. Since this morning, police operations have taken place and more will take place, concerning dozens of individuals,” he said.
The government is also probing 51 French Muslim associations.
The government said if Muslim organizations under investigation were found to promote hatred, they would be closed down.
The associations include the Collective Against Islamophobia which the government believes it propagates a permanent message of defiance to the French state.
On its website, the collective describes itself as a “human rights organization whose mission is to combat Islamophobia” that partners with the United Nations among other institutions.
On the other hand, a police source cited by the Reuters news agency on Sunday said France was preparing to expel 231 foreigners on a government watchlist for suspected extremist religious beliefs. However, it was not clear whether that development was linked to Monday’s operations.