A “dangerous” Islamist, who is alleged to have played a prominent role in organising protests against the Paris high school teacher who was beheaded last week, has been taken into police custody.
Abdelhakim Sefrioui, 61, is alleged to have helped to organise protests against Samuel Paty, the teacher from the school in a north-western suburb of Paris who was decapitated after showing his students images of the prophet Muhammad during a discussion on freedom of speech.
Further raids on the homes of suspected Islamists by French police were reported on Monday as the French Government announced an investigation into 51 Muslim organisations. One of them, the Cheikh Yassine Collective, which is named after a former leader of the genocidal antisemitic terrorist group, Hamas, was dissolved by the French Cabinet today. The Government said that the Cheikh Yassine Collective was ‘implicated’ in Mr Paty’s murder.
Eye-witnesses said that Abdoullakh Anzonov, the eighteen-year-old refugee from Chechnya shouted “Allahu akbar” (“God is great”) as he slaughtered Mr Paty, 47. Mr Anzonov was later shot dead by police.
In the days leading up to his murder, Mr Paty had been the target of protests from some Muslim parents in connection with his display of the images. One parent had sought the backing of Mr Sefrioui, a Moroccan-born Islamist described by a prominent French Muslim leader as “dangerous.”
On the day before the murder, after filming an interview with a female Muslim pupil, Mr Sefrioui had a meeting with members of the school management and issued a statement asserting that Muslim children “had been attacked and humiliated in front of their classmates.” He demanded the immediate suspension of Mr Paty, whom he referred to as “this thug.”
In an interview with the news outlet Marianne, Bernard Godard, an expert on Islam and former adviser to France’s Interior Ministry, said that Mr Sefrioui had been well-known to French intelligence for nearly twenty years. In 2011, Hassen Chalghoumi, an Imam in the Parisian suburb of Drancy, was placed under police protection after Mr Sefrioui denounced him as a “pawn of the Zionists.”
Also speaking to Marianne, Imam Chalghoumi said Mr Sefrioui was “dangerous because he seduces the youth.”
Mr Sefrioui’s activism has repeatedly involved antisemitism. In 2006, for example, he campaigned on behalf of the comedian, presidential candidate and convicted antisemite Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, who was recently banned from several social media platforms for Holocaust denial and antisemitism.
Mr Sefrioui is a member of the Council of French Imams and claims to speak in its name. However, Daw Meskine, Secretary-General of the organisation, vigorously disputed his right to do so in interviews with French media over the weekend. When asked about the harassment of Mr Paty, Mr Meskine said: “Sefrioui does not have the right to speak on our behalf. It was a personal initiative.”