Reports reaching us has it that French police have interrogated an 8-year-old after he allegedly made comments in school in praise of terrorists have highlighted fears that the authorities may be going too far in their crackdown on hate speech.
Police in the southern city of Nice said they questioned the child and his father following a report by the school’s headmaster.
The child raised concern when he refused to take part in a minute’s silence for the victims of a January 7 attack in which Islamist gunmen shot dead 12 people at the Paris offices of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, according to Marcel Auhier, in charge of the region’s public security.
The boy’s teacher said the child also expressed “solidarity” with the gunmen, who claimed their gruesome attacks were justified by Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, Islam’s holiest figure.
“In the current context, the school principal decided to report to police what had happened,” said Authier, who stressed no complaint had been filed against the boy.
We summoned the child and his father to try to understand how an eight-year-old boy could hold such radical ideas,” he added. “Obviously, the child doesn’t understand what he’s saying.
The boy’s lawyer Sefen Guez Guez was not immediately available for comment but on his Twitter feed he wrote that the child admitted having said the words: “I am with the terrorists.”
French Police Interrogated 8-year-old Boy for making a Terror Comment
According to the tweet, when police asked the child what the word “terrorism” meant, he replied: “I don’t know.”
Soon after, the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), a leading anti-racism watchdog, released a statement denouncing “the collective hysteria that has engulfed France since early January”.