France was yesterday to pay tribute to a history teacher beheaded in a quiet Paris suburb as French President Emmanuel Macron promised to intensify a clampdown on Muslim extremism.
Police have carried out dozens of raids, while the government has ordered the six-month closure of a mosque and plans to dissolve a group that supports Palestinian militant group Hamas.
“Our fellow citizens expect actions,” Macron said during a visit to a Paris suburb on Tuesday. “These actions will be stepped up.”
Samuel Paty, a 47-year-old teacher, was attacked on Friday last week on his way home from the junior-high school where he taught in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 40km northwest of Paris.
Yesterday evening, Macron was to attend an official memorial with Paty’s family and about 400 guests at the Sorbonne University, posthumously giving the teacher France’s highest award, the Legion d’Honneur.
Paty had been the subject of an online hate campaign since showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed during a class on free speech — the same images that sparked a bloody assault on the officials of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo when they were originally published five years ago.
Seven people, including two minors, were to appear before an anti-terrorism judge yesterday for possible indictments in Paty’s case, a judicial source told reporters.
Nine other people were freed on Tuesday evening.
Killer Abdullakh Anzorov — an 18-year-old originally from the Russian region of Chechnya — was shot dead by police shortly after the assault.
A disgruntled parent who had fired up anger about Paty’s lesson through messages on social media had exchanged messages on WhatsApp with Anzorov in the days leading up to the murder.
The material he uploaded was widely shared, including by a mosque in the northern Paris suburb of Pantin.
The head of the mosque, M’hammed Henniche, said he had shared the video out of fear that Muslim children were being singled out in class.
However, the French government has earmarked his mosque for a six-month closure — one of its most significant moves after days of raids and tough rhetoric.
Macron said a pro-Hamas group called the Cheikh Yassine Collective would be dissolved for being “directly implicated” in the murder, adding that a formal decision would be taken at a Cabinet meeting yesterday.
The group’s founder, Muslim radical Abdelhakim Sefrioui, is being held by police for publishing a video on YouTube insulting Paty.
Macron has also added an international dimension to his anti-extremism efforts, asking Russian President Vladimir Putin for strengthened cooperation in the fight against terrorism during a telephone call on Tuesday.
Russia has played down any association with the killer, saying Anzorov had never been in contact with officials and had left the country more than a decade ago.
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