France to increase security at religious sites

Move comes amid growing tensions following beheading of teacher who showed his class caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.

Tags: France
Elad Benari ,

French police officer
French police officer

France will be increasing security at religious sites, the interior minister said Tuesday, adding that the country faces a “very high” risk of terrorist threats, amid growing geopolitical tensions following the beheading of a teacher who showed his class caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, The Associated Press reported.

France’s national police have called for increased security at religious sites around the All Saint’s holiday this coming weekend, particularly noting online threats from extremists against Christians and moderate French Muslims.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on France-Inter radio that the terrorist threat remains “very high, because we have a lot of enemies from within and outside the country.”

He reiterated plans to try to disband Muslim groups seen as peddling dangerous radical views or with too much foreign financing. He accused Turkey and Pakistan in particular of “meddling in France's internal business."

“There is a battle against an Islamist ideology. We must not back down,” he said, even as he stressed that “the Muslim faith has all its place in the republic.”

French diplomats are trying to quell anger in Turkey and Arab nations amid anti-France protests and calls for boycotts of French goods in response to President Emmanuel Macron’s firm stance against Islamism in the wake of the October 16 beheading of teacher Samuel Paty.

French authorities are investigating the killing as an Islamist terror attack. Macron said following the murder that actions against Islamist extremism will be "intensified".

The prophet cartoons deeply upset many Muslims around the world. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has led the charge against France, questioning Macron’s mental state last week. In response, France recalled its ambassador to Turkey for consultations, a first in French-Turkish diplomatic relations.

EU officials who back Macron have warned that Turkey’s stance could further damage its relations with key trading partners and its long-stalled efforts to join the EU.