The French authorities announced, Tuesday, that they will close a mosque in Paris as part of a crackdown on extremism that led to the arrest of more than a dozen following the beheading of a teacher whose students had shown cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
A source close to the investigation said that the mosque, located in a densely populated suburb northeast of Paris, posted a video on his Facebook page days before the horrific murder on Friday denouncing teacher Samuel Patti’s choice of material to discuss the chapter on freedom of expression.
The Interior Ministry said the Banten Mosque, which houses about 1,500 worshipers, will be closed on Wednesday evening for a period of six months.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanen declared that there would be no “minute of rest for the enemies of the republic.”
The order came after police launched a series of raids on Monday targeting extremist networks, especially in the Paris region.
Patty, 47, was assaulted on his way home from high school where he was teaching at Conflans Sainte-Honorine, 40 kilometers northwest of the capital.
A picture of the teacher and a letter admitting his murder were found on the mobile phone of his Chechen killer Abdullah Anzurov, 18, who also posted pictures of the decapitated body on Twitter, and police shot Anzurov.
Education Minister Jean-Michel Blancer said on Tuesday that Patty will posthumously receive the Legion of Supreme Honor in France because he was “martyred” because of his profession.
The murder was preceded by a vicious online campaign against Patti and the school, led by the father of one of the students.
The school said Patti gave Muslim students the option to leave the classroom.
The father who posted the video posted by the Banten Mosque is among 15 people arrested after the murder, along with a known extremist and four members of the Anzurov family.
Darman accused the father and the radical of issuing a “fatwa” against the teacher.
On Tuesday, Banten Mosque head Muhammad Hanish said he shared the video not to “verify” the complaint about the drawings, but for fear that Muslim children would be selected in the classroom.
Four students were also taken into police custody on Monday, suspected of agreeing to pay their wages in exchange for Patti being directed to his killer.
On Tuesday, the young interior minister, Marlene Schiappa, will meet the heads of French social networks to discuss promoting “combating cyber extremism.”
Patty’s murder drew parallels with the 2015 massacre in the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, in which 12 people, including cartoonists, were killed for publishing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
Tens of thousands of people marched across the country on Sunday to honor Patti and defend freedom of expression, while Muslim leaders gathered at his school on Monday to offer condolences and take their religion away from the horror of this crime.
French President Emmanuel Macron has threatened that “fear is about to change attitudes” in the new campaign against extremism.
The beheading of Patti was the second knife attack since the start of the trial last month for the Charlie Hebdo murders.
In the September attack, two people outside the former publishing offices were injured.
A silent march will be held at the Conflans-Saint-Honorine on Tuesday evening in Patty’s honor, as Parliament observes a minute of silence in the afternoon.
Macron will attend an official homage to the Patti family on Wednesday at the Sorbonne.
Blanker added that schools across the country will observe a minute of silence for Patti when students return after the fall break, and a special lesson on recent events will be given for all classes.
Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti denied on Tuesday any failure of the intelligence services.
“It is a malicious war,” he told France International. He added, “There is an organized terror that our devices are monitoring, and there is an 18-year-old man who was not on the intelligence radar and did this heinous act.”
Meanwhile, Paris prosecutors said they have opened an investigation into a French neo-Nazi website, hosted abroad, which has reprinted a photo of Patty’s decapitated body that the killer posted on Twitter.