PARIS (Dispatches) -- France ordered the temporary closure of a mosque outside Paris on Tuesday, part of a crackdown on Muslims after the decapitation of a teacher by a takfiri sympathizer.
Authorities claimed the Grand Mosque of Pantin, a low-income suburb on the capital’s northeastern outskirts, had shared a video on its Facebook page before the attack that vented hatred against history teacher Samuel Paty.
Police plastered notices of the closure order outside the mosque as the authorities promised a tough response against Muslim activists and foreigners believed to pose a security threat to France.
The six-month order was "for the sole purpose of preventing acts of terrorism”, the notice issued by the head of the Seine-Saint-Denis department read.
President Emmanuel Macron has used the occasion to stoke up what he calls Islamist separatism. He claims there is attempt by hostile elements within France’s large Muslim community to impose conservative beliefs over the traditional values of the French Republic in some communities.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmain said this week France was confronted by an "enemy within”.
The rector of the Grand Mosque of Panin, M’hammed Henniche, this weekend expressed regret over sharing the video on social media.
In the video, the Muslim father of one of Paty’s students said the history teacher had singled out Muslim students and asked them to leave his class before showing insulting anti-Islam cartoons. He called Paty a thug and said he wanted the teacher removed.
Henniche told Agence France Presse he had shared the video, filmed by the father of a student at Paty’s school, not to endorse the complaint but out of concern for Muslim children.
The student’s father is now in police custody.
"There’s no room for violence in our religion”, the mosque said in a statement published on Facebook on Monday. "We strongly condemn this savagery.”
One Pantin resident, who gave her name as Maya and said her husband prayed at the mosque, called the closure "sad for our community”.