French anti-terrorism police on Tuesday arrested seven people suspected of having communicated via social networks with the assassin of the teacher Samuel Paty whose beheading last year reopened the debate on the rights of expression cherished by France, said a justice official.
Paty, 47, was killed on October 16 outside his Paris school after showing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad during a class debate on free speech.
His killer, identified by the authorities as Abdullakh Anzorov, was later shot dead by the police. Anzorov, an 18-year-old refugee of Chechen origin who had become radicalized, according to the authorities, claimed responsibility for the murder in a text found on his phone which was accompanied by a photo of the teacher.
The seven people detained Tuesday in the Paris region, as well as in the west of France and in the cities of Lyon and Toulouse, are suspected contacts of Anzorov, said the judicial official. The official was not allowed to publicly discuss the details of the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Suspects can be held for initial questioning by counterterrorism investigators for up to 96 hours.
A total of 14 people were already under official investigation and face preliminary charges of terrorism and murder as part of the investigation. Of these, seven did not get a bond.
Torrent of indignation
Paty’s murder sparked a torrent of outrage that prompted President Emmanuel Macron to quell Islamist extremism and violence in a country reeling from a wave of jihadist attacks since 2015 that have killed more than 250 people .
Seventeen people were killed during three days of attacks in January 2015, starting with the massacre of 12 people at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, which had published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. The assault was followed by the murder of a French policewoman and a hostage-taking in a Jewish supermarket, in which four other people were killed.
Later that year, on November 13, 2015, a team of jihadist killers committed France’s deadliest peacetime atrocity, attacking the Stade de France, bars and restaurants in central Paris and the venue. concert of the Bataclan, killing 130 people.
In September 2020, three weeks after the trial of alleged accomplices in the Charlie Hebdo attack, two people were attacked outside the satirical weekly’s former offices by a man wielding a meat grinder. Less than two weeks after Paty’s murder, three people were killed when a young Tunisian recently arrived in Europe engaged in a stabbing frenzy in a church in the Mediterranean city of Nice.
Less than two weeks after Paty’s murder, three people were killed when a young Tunisian recently arrived in Europe engaged in a stabbing frenzy in a church in the Mediterranean city of Nice.
“ Harmful ideology ”
In response to Paty’s murder, Macron vowed that France would never give up Enlightenment values such as the right to blaspheme. He praised the murdered professor as a “hero” for having represented the secular and free-thinking values of the French Republic.
“He was killed because the Islamists want to take our future,” Macron said during a memorial service for Paty. “They’ll never get it.”
France has a long tradition of cartoons taking on political and religious authorities – including The rampant derision of Charlie Hebdo against Catholicism and the far-right Rassemblement national party of Marine Le Pen (formerly the National Front).
Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on December 9 a new bill to tackle the root causes of terrorism. He stressed that the text does not target religious freedom but targets “the harmful ideology of radical Islamism”.
Castex described the bill as “a law of freedom, protection and emancipation in the face of religious fundamentalism”.
The bill would make it easier to prevent mosques from receiving foreign funding and would also offer protection to moderate community leaders who risk being overthrown in an extremist “coup”.
The bill also proposes stricter criteria for allowing home schooling for children over three years old to prevent parents from removing their children from public schools and enrolling them in underground Islamist structures.
Doctors, meanwhile, would be fined or jail time if they performed virginity tests on girls.
The new law would also prohibit the authorities from issuing residence permits to polygamous applicants.
“With what has happened in France the last few years and more recently, the government just cannot rest and let this happen; it must take drastic measures to prevent this from continuing and getting worse, ”said Philip Turle, editor-in-chief of TBEN’s international affairs.
(TBEN with TBEN and TBEN and REUTERS)