French police have raided the homes of dozens of suspected Islamic radicals following the beheading of a teacher who showed controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to his pupils.
Some of those being questioned are believed to have posted messages of support for the killer of Samuel Paty.
The government also said it was probing 51 French Muslim associations.
Mr Paty’s suspected killer was shot dead by police on Friday after the attack close to the teacher’s school.
The school is located in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a north-western suburb of Paris.
The suspect, an 18-year-old born in Moscow of Chechen origin, had no known connection to Mr Paty or the school.
On Monday, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said the operations sent a message that there was “no respite for enemies of the republic”, and that they were expected to continue all week.
He said that not all individuals targeted in the operations were necessarily linked to the investigations into Mr Paty’s death.
Meanwhile, police will interview about 80 people who are believed to have posted messages in support of Mr Paty’s killer, Mr Darmanin added.
The government said if Muslim organisations under investigation were found to promote hatred, they would be closed down.
The associations include the Collective Against Islamophobia which the government believes propagate a permanent message of defiance to the French state.
On its website, the collective describes itself as a “human rights organisation whose mission is to combat Islamophobia” that partners with the United Nations among other institutions.
Anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-François Ricard said Mr Paty had been the target of threats since he showed the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad during a class about freedom of speech.
As he had done in similar lessons in recent years, Mr Paty, a history and geography teacher, advised Muslim students to look away if they thought they might be offended.
Depictions of the Prophet Muhammad can cause serious offence to Muslims because Islamic tradition explicitly forbids images of Muhammad and Allah (God).
The issue is particularly sensitive in France because of the famous publishing of cartoons of Prophet Muhammad by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. A trial is currently underway over the killing of 12 people by Islamist extremists at the magazine offices in 2015. -BBCRead Full Story