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France sees flurry of arrests after murder of teacher

France sees flurry of arrests after murder of teacher
Gov't vows pursuit of wider group of extremists, Muslims fear recent attack will lead to further rise of Islamophobia

By Cindi Cook

PARIS (AA) - Reactions to the killing of Samuel Paty, a teacher who was decapitated Friday in a northern Paris suburb, have been swift and furious among both teachers and ordinary citizens who held solemn gatherings over the weekend across France, while the interior minister and law enforcement vowed a comprehensive probe.

Paty, a 47-year-old father who taught history and geography at the Bois-d'Aulne College in Conflans-Saint-Honorine, was decapitated at 5.30 p.m. (1530GMT) on Friday by Abdoullakh Anzorov, an 18-year-old man of Chechen origin, according to the authorities.

The suspect was gunned down by police after fleeing to a nearby town. Anzorov was a resident of Evreaux, an hour to the west, and possessed a residence permit.

Nearly a dozen people were arrested so far in connection with Paty's killing and homes were raided by police.

Interior Minister Gerard Darmanin announced that the government is conducting its "biggest anti-Islamist crackdown" ever.

"Since the assassination, more than 80 investigations have been opened concerning online hate speech and individuals who said 'this teacher got what he deserved'," said Darmanin. "I cannot give too many details but they concern dozens of individuals not necessarily linked with the investigation."

Nine people were taken into custody the day after the incident, two more on Sunday, including Anzorov's family members and the father of one of the students who aired a video online accusing Paty of insulting Islam.

The teacher, during one of his classes on freedom of expression, had shown controversial cartoons depicting Muslim Prophet Muhammad, according to the reports.

Investigators from the National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor's Office immediately opened an anti-terrorism probe.

Muslim leaders across France have condemned the murder, including Ghaleb Bencheikh, the head of the Foundation of Islam of France.

Community leaders also expressed their concern that this attack would again stigmatize French Muslims and increase Islamophobic views. Critics said French President Emmanuel Macron's government may exploit this murder to intensify its controversial, anti-Muslim campaign.

The French government has announced on Monday that it was probing 51 French Muslim associations, including the Collective Against Islamophobia in France.

Interior Minister Darmanin claimed that the elements of the organization have caused his officials to consider them "an enemy of the republic."

The French-language online publication Islam&Info condemned the Monday raids over Twitter.

"At this very moment imams or Muslim associations, NGOs, are raided for nothing if not to create a climate of terror."

Earlier this month, Macron announced a controversial plan, starting a fight against the so-called "Islamist separatism" in the country.

“The problem is an ideology which claims its own laws should be superior to those of the republic,” he said.

Some NGOs or organizations which “act against the law and values of the country” might be closed or face tight financial audits, according to his plan.

source: News Feed
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