Hamas denies any link to French teacher’s beheading
The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas has denied any link to last week's beheading of a schoolteacher in France, after President Emmanuel Macron announced the dissolution of a group named after Hamas' founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
On Tuesday, Macron said that the government would shut down the "Sheikh Yassin Collective", a French pro-Palestinian group named after the former Islamist leader who was assassinated in an Israeli missile strike in 2004.
Macron claimed that the Sheikh Yassin Collective was "directly implicated" in the murder of teacher Samuel Paty, who showed his class cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad days before he was beheaded by 18-year-old Abdullakh Anzorov.
"Our fellow citizens expect actions," the French president added.
The Sheikh Yassin Collective's founder, Abdelhakim Sefrioui, is one of a number of people arrested over Paty’s killing.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has accused him and the parent of a Muslim pupil at the murdered teacher's school of issuing a fatwa against Paty.
In a statement, Hamas said that it had no relationship to the Sheikh Yassin Collective.
"We absolutely deny any link," Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasem told the Arabic news website Arabi 21.
"The Sheikh Yassin Collective, whose headquarters are in France, does not have any organisational relationship to [Hamas], neither does its leader Abdelhakim Sefrioui," the Hamas statement added.
The statement denounced "biased media attempts to involve the [Hamas] movement in an internal struggle which we are not part of", and added that "our only battle is with the Zionist occupation for freedom and independence".
French police have carried out dozens of raids on Islamist groups since Paty’s murder, while nine of 16 people held in the Pety case have been released.
A mosque in the northern Paris suburb of Pantin, accused by the French government of promoting "hatred and violence", will also be shut down for six months, beginning on Wednesday evening.
The mosque is attended by roughly 1,300 people every week and worshippers there say that they are being unfairly punished.
The mosque's Facebook page shared a video on 9th October - one week before Paty's killing - in which the parent of a Muslim pupil expressed anger at the teacher's decision to show the cartoons.
This is believed to be a factor in the French authorities' order to shutter the mosque.