France ordered the temporary closure of a mosque outside Paris on Tuesday as part of a crackdown on people who are suspected of inciting hatred, after the killing of a teacher who showed his class caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
The Grand Mosque of Pantin, in a low-income suburb on the capital’s northeastern outskirts, had shared a video on its Facebook page before the attack that vented hatred against history teacher Samuel Paty, who was beheaded last week.
Police sources said earlier the 18-year-old killer had exchanged messages on WhatsApp with the man who wanted Paty fired after his daughter told him how the teacher had shown cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a lesson on free speech.
The girl’s father was outraged by him displaying a caricature of the Prophet naked, and sought Paty’s dismissal for disseminating “pornography”. The parent was behind an online campaign urging “mobilisation” against the teacher.
The man, now in police custody, had placed his phone number on Facebook and exchanged messages with the killer – 18-year-old Chechen Abdullakh Anzorov – on WhatsApp in the days leading up to the murder, police sources told AFP news agency. Anzorov was shot dead by police soon after the killing.
The beheading of Paty, 47, for his use of religious satire to explore with students the debate surrounding freedom of expression has convulsed the country and shocked the world.
The killing came weeks after Macron expressed concerns about what he calls “Islamist separatism”.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said this week that France was confronted by an “enemy within”.
Meanwhile, there are rising concerns of collective punishment regarding France’s response to Friday’s killing.
Darmanin, in a post on Twitter, threatened to close the Collective against Islamophobia in France, an anti-racist civil society group, prompting concerns from activists.
“We are concerned by the political pressures, at the highest level of the French government, and intimidation campaign targeting a human rights organisation whose work is to address discrimination and hate crimes against Muslim citizens,” said the European network against racism.