French schools are placed under armed guard after Islamist terror threats over classroom ban on religious clothing

Friday, March 29, 2024
 – Dozens of French schools have been placed under armed guard after more than 130 schools received Islamist terror threats over a national ban on wearing religious clothing.

Fears of violent retaliation over law-enforced school policy come as the Jean-Perrin Lycée in Rezé, near Nantes, was evacuated Thursday, March 28, after students received videos showing beheadings, directed to an online portal for pupils, parents and staff.

It followed similar “serious threats” containing “justification of and incitement to terrorism” sent out to 30 schools around Paris last week, and the resignation of a headteacher in the capital after receiving death threats for asking a pupil to remove her Islamic head-covering.

Police were ordered to patrol the Maurice-Ravel Lycée in eastern Paris and a 26-year-old man was arrested for making death threats against the headteacher.

The resignation sparked indignation in France, where concerns for educators' safety have grown since the murders of two teachers in attacks linked to Islamic extremism.

France, which introduced its ban on religious clothing in schools in a bid to preserve secular tradition two decades ago, has vowed to fight back.

Prime minister Gabriel Attal vowed to bring a complaint against the student and two others at the Maurice-Ravel Lycée for slander and false accusations.

Mr Attal said last week that the country was raising its security alert to the highest level after the Moscow concert hall attack. ISIS claimed responsibility for the atrocity on March 22, which saw gunmen storm a public event and fire indiscriminately at civilians with automatic weapons, killing at least 143.

It comes amid a wave of terror threats made against schools nationwide, perpetrators sending bomb threats to secondary schools and forcing evacuations.

Last week, secondary school in the department of Seine-et-Marne to the east of the French capital received a message saying that explosives had been hidden throughout the establishment “in the name of Allah”, a police source said.

At least five other high schools in the department of Yvelines in the west of the Greater Paris region also received bomb threats last week.

“The terrorist threat is real, it's strong,” French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal told reporters, adding that two plots by suspected Islamic extremists had already been thwarted this year. 

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