Three children of Turkish descent and one of Algerian descent remain shaken by their interrogations.
Police in France interrogated four 10-year-olds for 11 hours on “false allegations” of “justifying terrorism,” according to one parent’s interview with Andalou Agency.
The police “clearly wanted to terrorize us,” Servet Yildirim, the father of one of the children, told the Turkish news agency.
The parents of three children of Turkish descent and one of Algerian descent — all 10 years old — denounced French prosecutors’ “excessive use of force” during interrogations last week.
The four children attend the same school in Albertville, southeastern France.
Yildirim told Andalou Agency how police violently pounded on the family’s door early in the morning on November 6. “Ten masked policemen carrying big weapons entered the house,” he said, adding that the personnel were aggressive and shouting.
The police roused Yildirim’s 10-year-old daughter, referred to as E.Y. to protect her identity, and took her to the police station after searching the house.
At the police station, “They asked us a lot of questions about our religious beliefs, if we do prayers, etc.,” Yildirim said in the interview. “They questioned both of us, my wife and I, for two hours.”
They also pressed the couple for their thoughts on the tense relationship between French President Emmanuel Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Yildirim described these questions as “disrespectful and provocative.”
“I don’t understand: 10 overly armed police officers, trying to, it seems, to break down our door, to come and get my 10-year-old daughter, who was still asleep,” he lamented.
E.Y. was detained for 11 hours and subject to “overly aggressive” and “frightening” behavior, her father said.
Yildirim believes the interrogation was due to comments E.Y. made during a classroom discussion of Charlie Hebdo’s caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad and the October 16 murder of Samuel Paty, a French teacher who showed the cartoons in class.
E.Y. told Anadolu Agency that her teacher asked what she thought about Paty’s murder. “I told her that I was sorry that he’s dead but nothing would have happened if he hadn’t showed the cartoons.”
She continued: “My teacher just responded, ‘okay, I understand,’ and that was it.”
“I was very scared,” the shaken girl said. “This is the first time something like this happened to me.”
Yildirim came to his daughter’s defense, arguing that she is only 10 years old and “knows nothing” about Paty’s murder.
“These aren’t things we talk about at home,” he underlined.
He added that his family has lived in the same area for 20 years and the school knows them very well. “We had several children who went to the same school. If there was a concern about radicalization with us, everyone would know,” he stressed.
The parents of the four Albertville children said the police refused to provide them with documentation on the reason for the detention and interrogation of their children.
Several Turkish officials stepped forward to condemn France’s detention of the four 10-year-olds, given that three are of Turkish descent.
“This is banditry via the state,” Mustafa Sentop, the speaker of Turkey’s parliament, said Saturday. The incident “must be accounted for under the rules of law.”
Sentop said recent developments in France are worrying all Muslims worldwide.
Yavuz Selim Kiran, Turkey’s deputy foreign minister, also denounced the incident.
“What state mentality detains 10-year-old children with long-barreled guns, raiding their homes and interrogating them for hours?” Kiran wrote on Twitter. “We strongly condemn this inhumane practice against our citizens in Albertville, France. We are closely following the matter.”