French minister requests closure of mosque that denounced murdered teacher

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has requested the temporary closure of a mosque that condemned murdered teacher Samuel Paty.

On October 9, the Pantin mosque in the Parisian suburb Seine-Saint-Denis posted a video on its Facebook page denouncing Paty for showing pupils caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, saying the teacher had spread a message of “hate” by doing so. The mosque deleted the post a few hours after the murder.

Paty, who had shown the caricatures as part of a lesson on freedom of expression, was beheaded outside his school on Friday by an 18-year-old Chechen. The killing has shocked France, with tens of thousands taking to the streets to pay tribute to the teacher.

On Monday, Darmanin told French television TF1: “I asked the prefect of Seine-Saint-Denis to close the mosque of Pantin since its leader relayed the message saying that the teacher should be intimidated and published the school’s address.”

According to Darmanin, the mosque will be closed for six months.

The head of the mosque, M’hammed Henniche, said he regretted the decision to share the clip, but insisted that the video was not a call for violence. “There is no call to hate, and no call against this teacher,” he told Franceinfo.

Darmanin also said that since the murder, 34 police operations against Islamist individuals and associations had been carried out. Those were “not necessarily connected” with the killing, he added, but a message “for the enemies of the republic.”

Meanwhile, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer told BFM TV that Paty would be posthumously awarded France’s highest order of merit, the Legion d’Honneur. A national ceremony in honor of Paty will be held at Paris’ Sorbonne University on Wednesday.

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