France votes anti-terror law days after Marseille attack
7 October, 2017
France's lower house of parliament approved last Tuesday a new anti-terrorism law intended to bring an end to a nearly two-year-long state of emergency and to toughen measures against extremists, news wires reported. The law will incorporate several measures first authorised under the emergency arrangement. They include easier searches of homes and confining individuals to their home towns, without judicial approval. Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told parliament that the threat level was still very serious.
Most people in France approve the move, but it has been criticised by rights groups. A state of emergency was first introduced after the attacks of 13 November 2015, when IS militants from Islamic State killed 130 people in gun and bomb attacks in Paris. It has since been extended six times, but there was a consensus that to continue with the state of emergency indefinitely would be undemocratic. The bill was approved by 415 votes to 127 and is expected to become law before the latest state of emergency extension expires on 1 November.
Under the new law, government members, rather than judges, will approve the confinement of individuals to their home towns, requiring them to report to police once a day. The authorities will also be allowed to mount security perimeters around places deemed at risk such as railway stations and airports. Mosques or other places of worship can be shut down if preachers there are found to be promoting radical ideology.
The law was voted mere days after two young women were stabbed to death near the Marseille Saint-Charles train station by a man from North African origin who reportedly shouted “Allahu Akbar” before attacking them. The assailant himself, known to police for common abuses such as shoplifting, was shot dead by a soldier from Sentinelle force who arrived on the scene quickly.