France closes mosque in crackdown following teacher's killing

Grand Mosque of Pantin. Source: Twitter/@EUwatchers

A temporary closure of a mosque was ordered in outside Paris by the government as part of a crackdown on people who are suspected of inciting hatred after the killing of a teacher who showed his class caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, reported Aljazeera on Wednesday.

The Grand Mosque of Pantin, in a low-income suburb on the capital’s northeastern outskirts, had shared a video on its Facebook page before the attack that vented hatred against history teacher Samuel Paty, who was beheaded last week.

Police plastered notices of the closure order outside the mosque as the authorities promised a tough response against the disseminators of hate messages, preachers of controversial sermons and foreigners believed to pose a security threat to France.

The six-month order was “for the sole purpose of preventing acts of terrorism”, the notice issued by the head of the Seine-Saint-Denis department read.

The investigation into the grisly killing revealed on Tuesday the man who decapitated Paty had been in contact with a parent leading an online campaign against the teacher.

The breakthrough in the case came as President Emmanuel Macron promised more pressure after days of a crackdown that resulted in more than a dozen arrests, the mosque ordered shut, and a pro-Hamas group ordered dissolved.

“Our fellow citizens expect actions,” Macron said during a visit to a Paris suburb. “These actions will be stepped up.”

In a speech earlier this month, Macron said, “Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world today, we are not just seeing this in our country” – comments that led to a backlash from the world’s Muslims, who claimed he was pandering to the far right.

France’s fragile relationship with its Muslim minority, the largest in Europe, is at breaking point.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said this week that France was confronted by an “enemy within”.

Meanwhile, there are rising concerns of collective punishment regarding France’s response to Friday’s killing.