In action against radical Muslims, French government seeks limits of law

History teacher Samuel Paty, who was murdered by an extremist Muslim on Friday near Paris, is honored in several ways in France. Tonight, there‘s a quiet trip from the school where he taught. Tomorrow evening, he will receive a national tribute at Sorbonne University in Paris. And he gets posthumously the Légion d’Honneur, the highest French award there is.

In the investigation of Paty‘s decapitation, 16 people have been arrested. At the same time, the French Government is decisively showing itself with a series of far-reaching measures against suspicious Islamic organisations, although it is still unclear whether this can be done legally. Many people wonder if the government could not have taken action sooner.

Le Pen

If the government had listened to us, Samuel Paty might still be alive, says Sébastien Chenu, spokesman for the right-populist Rassemblement National.

The chairman of that party, Marine Le Pen, is demanding that foreigners known to the intelligence services be expelled from the country. Radicalised French citizens would have to go to prison, although legally this is not always possible.

Yet President Macron feels the pressure of Le Pen. The next presidential election will be in a year and a half, in April 2022.

Wind from the sails

Macron knows that Marine Le Pen usually scores well with her constituents, but also with a wider audience, says correspondent Frank Renout. Macron wants Le Pen to take the wind out of the sails by now simply taking a lot of measures quickly and showing that he is performing.

And those measures are already in place. For example, today a mosque was closed that posted a video on Facebook, in which teacher Samuel Paty was blackened. Also yesterday, the police did 40 searches of civilians and associations. In the next few days, the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin wants to continue with this. Every day, the police have to ‘visit‘ about twenty places.

Social Media

There’s also investigating about 80 statements of support that Samuel Paty‘s killer got on social media. They come according to the security services of potential terrorists, who do not tolerate criticism of Islam.

The government also has about 50 associations and groups on the grain, which would promote separatism. That is, they consider Islam more important than French law. But such measures are difficult to make in court, experts say. Freedom of association and freedom of the press are too firmly enshrined in French law.

Chechens

The Home Secretary says he wants to evict a few hundred radicalized Muslims. But that too is difficult. Most of them come from North Africa and Russia – this is mainly Chechens. Also the suspect in Paty’s murder was a Chechen. He came to France with his parents as a refugee when he was ten years old.

The Minister of the Interior has just been to Morocco with a list of persons he wants to expend. When it comes to Russia, the Minister must admit that they are ‘not very keen to reinstate criminals and terrorists’.