Following the beheading of a schoolteacher on Friday, the French authorities have launched a huge operation against the so-called “Islamist movement” in an operation that has targeted many individuals, imams and Muslim NGOs.
Sixteen people have been arrested including four schoolchildren and the Pantin Mosque near Paris has been closed down after its director allegedly spread “hate speech” online.
The raids follow what the Interior Ministry has called a “fatwa” which was issued against Samuel Paty who was beheaded last week.
Gérald Darmanin, the Minister of the Interior, said “dozens of individuals” who have been targeted are not “necessarily linked to the investigation.” He said he “clearly wants to send a message” to these people that they will “not have a minute’s respite” and are considered “enemies of the Republic.”
Darmanin said about 80 investigations were under way into radical preachers and suspected extremists accused of spreading online hate, and authorities were urgently assessing about 50 associations in the Muslim community, “some of which will certainly be dissolved.”
Police sources told French media that authorities were preparing to deport 213 foreigners who were on a government watchlist and suspected of holding extreme religious beliefs, including about 150 serving jail sentences.
The raid against Muslim organisations started last week with the arrest of the President of the Muslim charity BarakaCity. Idriss Sihamedi was allegedly assaulted by police during the raid before being released a few days later.
Besides BarakaCity, the Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) and other NGOs have been declared “enemies of the Republic.”
On the other hand, French Muslims are saying the beheading is being used as an excuse to target Muslims who have nothing to do with the murder whatsoever.
BarakaCity said: “The NGO Baraka City has not committed any illegal act that justifies a dissolution. By harming it and harming its beneficiaries and infrastructure, the government is committing an injustice that will endanger millions of people.”
Its president, Idriss Sihamedi, added: “We denounce a violation of the law and an abuse of power! We bring 2 million liters of water per day to Africa and operate for 2 million beneficiaries. This dissolution proposal is a real scandal!”
Shiamedi later vowed to “file a complaint for abuse of power and defend the interests of two million poor people in the world.”
Meanwhile, French president Emmanuel Macron has announced a national tribute for the dead teacher to be held on Wednesday, and on Monday he received the teacher’s family at the Élysée Palace, expressing his condolences and assuring them of his support.
The leader of the far-right National Rally, Marine Le Pen, laid a wreath outside Paty’s school on Monday. She called for “wartime legislation” to combat the terror threat and demanded an “immediate” moratorium on immigration and the expulsion of all foreigners on terror watchlists.