The French president has announced a large-scale campaign against Islamism and the deportation of more than 200 radicalised Islamists from the country. However, the opposition argues that this number is far too low because, in actual fact, authorities have 20 times as many individuals registered as particularly dangerous to society. The brother of a businessman beheaded in 2015 said the French government had failed to do anything to curb Islamism. In a recent TV show a student from the school of the teacher murdered on Friday has revealed that he is constantly bullied by Muslim students because of his faith.
It took the murder of history teacher Samuel Paty, decapitated with bestial cruelty in a street in broad daylight a few days ago, for things to get moving in France and for the government to finally act, instead of just talking. At least the president’s statement suggests that the gears will be set in motion and foreign nationals registered by French authorities as radicalised Islamists will be returned to their homeland.
In fact, Emmanuel Macron has no choice as French society now expects him to take a hard line against Islamism. Although in his speech on 2 October, the French head of state vowed to take action against Islamist separatism as early as this year and present some draft legislation to tackle the phenomenon on 9 December, but so far nothing too noteworthy has happened.
Herve Cornara’s elder brother, Didier, also commented on the brutal murder. Businessman Herve Cornara was beheaded by his employee, 35-year-old Yassin Salhi, and his severed head was placed on a fence railing in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, Isere departement, on 26 June 2015. The perpetrator was captured, but later committed suicide in prison, taking his secret to the grave and never revealing why he had taken the life of his employer in such a cruel way. All he disclosed earlier was that he had some disagreement with his one-time boss.
Cornara was the first victim who was executed with the methods of the Islamic State on French soil. According to his brother, the state simply failed to do anything to combat radical Islamism in the country. He has now called on politicians to take action without delay, Le Parisien reported.
Following the teacher’s gruesome murder, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin announced in a statement that authorities are set to deport 231 foreign nationals who have been registered as radicalised Islamists dangerous to society. Reacting to the announcement, National Rally chief Marine Le Pen pointed out that this number was extremely small, as figures from the interior ministry reveal that there are 20 times as many Islamists registered in so-called “S files” indicating that they are potentially dangerous to society. Therefore, the National Rally is set to initiate a petition to have every single radicalised Islamist expelled from France.
In a speech on 19 October, Marine Le Pen underlined that the French Republic must regain control, adding that eradicating Islamism was no longer an option but a duty for her party and for all French people.
Following Emmanuel Macron’s eloquent speech, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin also took action. Besides announcing the deportation of a number of Islamists, he ordered a mosque in the town of Pantin to be closed down for 6 months, following a hate video published by its imam, suggesting that history teacher Samuel Paty should be scared or frightened. Shortly after the video, Paty was beheaded on the street by an 18-year-old Chechen man named Abdoullakh Anzorov. According to Le Figaro, the imam had even disclosed the school’s address.
The campaign against the teacher was also joined by Abdelhakim Sefrioui, well known to authorities for his radical Islamist views and anti-Semitism. Sefrioui is a member of the Council of French Imams and ever since the early 2000s, he has been involved in every demonstration designed to defend the radical vision of Islam. He also posted the video and was actively involved (along with some Muslim leaders) in issuing a fatwah, a formal ruling or interpretation widely used in Islam, against the teacher. In a Twitter video Abdelhakim Sefrioui says the school’s management knew that the history teacher had been insulting the religion of Muslim students for years, adding that 12 to 13-year-old students were made to feel ashamed about their religion before their classmates.
After the brutal attack, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin discussed the closure of the Pantin mosque with the prefect of the Seine-Saint-Denis prefecture. According to the adopted decree, the mosque may remain open until Wednesday evening, which is also the official deadline for filing any appeals. After that, it shall remain closed for six months.
Authorities have linked an increasing number of people to the murder since the incident. 15 people, four of whom are students at the school, are already in custody. The investigation looked into how the terrorist, who lived some 90 kilometres from the school, could identify Samuel Paty, the teacher who had showed the caricatures mocking Prophet Muhammad to his class. It turned out that the 18-year-old killer had contacted a student’s father, the man who called the teacher a “thug” on his video and said that he did not have a place in public education.
Police also detained four students suspected of accepting 300 euros for identifying Samuel Paty to the killer.
However, it is not just the recently arrested students who pose a problem to the school. A former student of Samuel Paty recently appeared as a guest on C Politique, a popular TV show. He described his former teacher as a great man who loved to teach, adding that Muslim students, especially those who were older, despised him and kept him under pressure because of his atheism.