The murder of Professor Paty caused an electric shock in France. Tens of thousands of people demonstrated on Sunday to defend freedom of expression and say “no to obscurantism”.
The French authorities launched Monday a series of operations targeting the Islamist movement and promised “a war against the enemies of the Republic”, three days after the assassination of Professor Samuel Paty, which gave rise to new arrests.
Fifteen people, including four college students, are now in police custody and questioned by anti-terrorism investigators who are seeking to establish whether the alleged murderer, an 18-year-old Chechen Russian killed by the police, has benefited from complicity.
According to a source familiar with the matter, Mr. Paty was “designated” to the assailant, Abdoullakh Anzarov, “by one or more college students, a priori against remuneration”. Among the new detainees is also a man sentenced for “terrorism”, who declares “spontaneously having been in contact with the author some time before the events”, according to a judicial source.
Beheaded Friday near the college of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, north-west of Paris, where he taught history and geography, Samuel Paty was targeted, according to the Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin, by a “fatwa” launched by a student’s parent and a preacher – both in custody – for showing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad during a free speech class.
“Harass” the Islamists
On the sidelines of the investigation, police operations were launched on Monday against people and associations deemed close to the Islamist movement, with the objective of “send a message: not a minute’s respite for the enemies of the Republic”, said Mr. Darmanin on radio Europe 1. About twenty administrative checks will be carried out every day to “harass” and “destabilize” this movement, said his entourage.
These operations come in the wake of a Defense Council Sunday evening, during which French President Emmanuel Macron announced a “plan d’action” to prevent Islamists from “sleep peacefully” in France.
According to Mr. Darmanin, 51 associations considered close to this movement are in the crosshairs of the authorities. He announced that several of them would be dissolved in the Council of Ministers, citing as examples the Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) and the humanitarian association BarakaCity.
“Madness seizes the Minister of the Interior who, failing to find anything against our NGO, takes advantage of the emotion aroused” by the drama, replied BarakaCity on Facebook.
Since the attack, “more than 80 surveys” were also opened against “all those who apologically explained in one way or another that this professor had sought him out”, said Mr. Darmanin, affirming that arrests had taken place in this context.
Asserting that “fear and obscurantism will never win out”, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced “other actions”, especially against associations “enemies of the Republic”, “on the fight against online hatred”, “on the intelligence and surveillance of these networks”, as well as in terms of “teacher safety” and schools.
The murder of Professor Paty caused an electric shock in France. Tens of thousands of people demonstrated on Sunday to defend free speech and say “no to obscurantism”.
A national tribute to Samuel Paty will be organized Wednesday at the Parisian University of the Sorbonne, “symbolic monument of the spirit of the Enlightenment and the cultural, literary and educational influence of France,” said the French presidency. Mr. Macron received the professor’s family on Monday.
The European Parliament observed a minute of silence, as did the French Senate. The Paris Special Assize Court, where 14 defendants in connection with the January 2015 attacks in Paris are tried, also paid tribute to the history-geography professor.
The Head of State also met during the day with representatives of the French Council of Muslim Worship, which on the night from Friday to Saturday had denounced “those who seek a reason for this despicable crime”.
Gathered in the afternoon in front of the college of Mr. Paty, imams expressed their “anger” and their “shame”.
A white march will be organized on Tuesday evening in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine.
After bringing together the heads of the police and gendarmerie on Monday, the Minister for Citizenship, Marlène Schiappa, convened for Tuesday the bosses of the French branches of social networks and platforms Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Tiktok and Snapchat, as part of the “fight against cyber-Islamism”.
Right and far right competed for proposals Monday: closing mosques “radicalized” and the expulsion of radical foreign imams to a moratorium on immigration, through the inclusion in the Constitution of the preeminence of the rules of the Republic or, like the mayor of Nice (south-east), Christian Estrosi (right ), that the police become “secular referents” in schools.