French mosque closed in crackdown after teacher’s beheading
France’s interior minister on Tuesday ordered the closure of a mosque outside Paris as part of a crackdown on hate speech after last week’s beheading of a teacher who had shown his class caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad.
A sign outside the entrance of the Grand Mosque of Pantin, located northeast of Paris, said the Muslim place of worship would be closed for six months, with a six-month prison sentence for those who violate the order, according to the Associated Press.
The six-month order was “for the sole purpose of preventing acts of terrorism,” the notice from the head of the Seine-Saint-Denis department read, according to Reuters.
The order came after the mosque shared a video on its Facebook page that directed verbal attacks at history teacher Samuel Paty prior to the teacher’s beheading.
Earlier this month, Paty had shown his students cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a civics class on freedom of expression, which had reportedly upset some Muslim parents.
The mosque then shared a video recorded by a man who said his daughter was in Paty’s class, calling the teacher a “thug” and asking other parents to “join forces and say ‘stop, don’t touch our children.’”
According to the AP, the father quoted his 13-year-old daughter as saying that Paty had asked Muslims to leave the classroom, although this detail was disputed by Paty himself prior to his killing.
The country’s national anti-terror prosecutor opened an investigation for “murder in connection with a terrorist enterprise” and “criminal terrorist association” regarding the educator’s killing.
French President Emmanuel Macron has asked for swift action in the investigations into Paty’s killing, blaming what he calls “separatism,” referring to Islamist extremism that authorities say contradicts French values.
As of Tuesday, the AP reported that 16 people, including students, were being held for questioning by police.
Police shot and killed the attacker Friday shortly after the beheading, with Reuters reporting on Saturday that investigators were trying to determine if the attacker, reportedly an 18-year-old of Chechen origin, had acted alone or had accomplices.
Police sources told the outlet that four relatives of the attacker, including a minor, were detained in the immediate aftermath of the attack.
Five more people were detained late Friday night, including two parents of students at the College du Bois d’Aulne where Paty worked.