France has been on high alert since the violent killing of a teacher who displayed caricatures of Prophet Muhammad during a class on the freedom of speech.
Rabat – Police in France are cracking down on “dozens of individuals” with affiliation to Islamist movements after the beheading of a teacher in Paris.
France has been on high alert since October 16, when an 18-year-old Chechen refugee attacked and killed French teacher Samuel Paty.
The violent murder came after the teacher displayed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad during a class on the freedom of speech.
The French Minister of Interior, Gerald Darmanin, said Paty was a victim of “fatwa,” a legal pronouncement in Islam.
“They obviously launched a fatwa against the professor,” the French minister told Europe 1. He referenced a group of people now in custody as part of ongoing investigations into the murder.
AFP said that France has launched 80 investigations into online hatred campaigns.
“Arrests have taken place since this assassination,” the French minister said.
The operations, according to French officials, began Monday morning and will continue in the coming days.
Darmanin said the operations do not target individuals necessarily linked to the investigation into the beheading.
For him, the operations seek to “convey a message” that France does not tolerate extremism.
The interior minister added that 51 associative structures will see visits by state services throughout the week and several of them will be dissolved in the council of ministers.
The official intends to dissolve the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), an association that denounces Islamophobia and benefits from state aid and tax deductions.
Darmanin argued that the CCIF is “obviously involved [and] a certain number of elements allow us to think that it is an enemy of the Republic.”
In addition to the collectives that France seeks to dissolve, the country also summoned other “extremist” individuals who may have links to the teacher’s murder.
According to AFP, the minister referred to the father of a college student from Conflans Sainte-Honorine, who met with the school’s principal to protest Paty’s lesson on freedom of speech before the attack. Abdelhakim Sefrioui, a member of France’s Council of Imams, accompanied the man to the meeting.
During the meeting, Sefrioui and the “angry” parent called for Paty to be fired.
Sefrioui and the parent are among those in custody as part of the ongoing terror probe.
Tension in France
The murder of Samuel Paty took place in a heated context, weeks after a stabbing attack near the former Charlie Hebdo office.
The suspect admitted that he wanted to set the building on fire in response to the satirical publication’s caricatures of Prophet Muhammad.
Following the attack, French President Emmanuel Macron promised that his government will enact a law that seeks to fight against “Islamist separatism” with a view to back freedom of speech in France.
After heavy criticism of Charlie Hebdo’s decision to re-print the offensive caricatures of the prophet, Macron said that everyone should respect the freedom of speech and denounced “Islamist separatism.”
The French president also said that Islam is a religion in crisis all over the world, vowing that the law seeks to also cancel a program bringing imams to France from Muslim countries.