The group of ten-year-olds, three of Turkish descent and one of Algerian descent, were taken to a police station in the south eastern French city of Albertville, after armed security forces raided their houses.
Servet Yildirim, the French-Turkish father of one of the children was quoted by Anadolu Agency as saying: “[the police] clearly wanted to terrorise us”.
Ten armed policemen arrived at the family’s home before 7am last Thursday and aggressively roused the inhabitants by knocking on the door, according to Yildirim.
The heavily armed policemen searched the house, taking pictures of wall hangings and decorations.
Yildirim, his wife, and daughter were later taken to the local police station where they were questioned on their religious identity and beliefs for at least two hours.
Yildirim said: “Police asked us: ‘Do you pray? Do you go to the mosque? Do your children go to the mosque? Do they get religious education at the mosque?’”
The family was also asked their opinions on the rising tensions between French President Emmanuel Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Yildirim explained he was asked: “’What do you think about the debate between [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and [French President Emmanuel] Macron? They asked us questions like: ‘What’s your political opinion of Turkey?’”
The raid took place because Yildirim’s daughter had voiced concerns over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) in class.
The ten-year-old told the Anadolu Agency she was asked by her teacher what she thought about the muder of Samuel Paty, who was beheaded by a teenager after he showed caricatures of the Islamic prophet to his students.
The girl was quoted as saying: “I told her that I was sorry that he’s dead, but nothing would have happened if he hadn’t shown the cartoons… My teacher just responded. ‘Okay, I understand’, and that was it.”
Despite his daughter’s comments, however, Yildirim told Anadolu Agency that she knows nothing about the incident as the family do not discuss such topics at home.
The raid comes only days after students in France returned to school amid the coronavirus pandemic. Schools marked their return by holding a minute’s silence in memory of Samuel Paty.