PARIS • France has unleashed a broad crackdown on Muslims accused of extremism, carrying out dozens of raids, vowing to shut down aid groups and threatening to expel foreigners as anger swept the country following the decapitation of a high-school teacher for showing caricatures of Prophet Muhammad in class.
Many of those swept up in raids were already in police files for showing "signals" of potential radicalisation, such as preaching radicalised sermons or sharing hate messages on social networks, government officials said. Over 200 others - the bulk already in prison - were threatened with a rare mass expulsion.
On Monday, the police began their work at 6am, going after "numerous" Muslims in multiple raids, hardline Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said.
"Other actions will follow", Prime Minister Jean Castex said in a speech on Monday, against "networks and individuals who are attacking our basic values and the republican ideal".
In addition, 51 Muslim aid organisations will be targeted by the police this week, the Interior Minister said, some of which would be dissolved at President Emmanuel Macron's request. By the day's end, it was not clear how many arrests had resulted from the police raids.
The scope of the response was a measure of how last Friday's killing of Mr Samuel Paty, a teacher in a suburb north of Paris, had reopened old wounds in France.
The nation remains traumatised by terrorists attacks by Muslim extremists that killed scores in 2015, starting with the editorial offices of the satirical Charlie Hebdo magazine - whose cartoons the teacher had shown.
A silent rally was planned yesterday evening, as well as a ceremony today at the Sorbonne attended by Mr Macron.
Public figures called the latest killing an assault on the republic and on French values, and Mr Paty is to posthumously receive France's highest award, the Legion d'Honneur.
Among the 15 people detained so far were four students who may have helped the killer - an 18-year-old of Chechen origin who was killed by police - to identify the teacher in return for payment.
The killer, Abdullakh Anzorov, had been in contact with a parent who was leading an online campaign against the teacher, police sources said yesterday.
Anzorov had exchanged messages on WhatsApp with the man, who wanted Mr Paty fired after his daughter told him how the teacher had shown cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.
The father, whose daughter was a student of Mr Paty's but was not in class at the time of the lesson, according to police sources, accused the teacher of "pornography" for showing a cartoon of the Prophet naked.
NYTIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE