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France

French court debuts de-radicalisation programme

AFP

A French court will this month test a de-radicalisation programme for people convicted of offences related to radical Islam, with the exception of terrorist acts, French newspaper Le Parisien reported Wednesday.

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"We have an important preventative role to play,” Jean-François Thony, the attorney general of Colmar in eastern France who is overseeing the project, told the daily. “This is why we want to implement this programme. We want to ensure that someone’s radicalisation does not one day result in a terrorist act.

"We cannot wait; it is urgent that we act," he added.

The programme will be divided into four phases over an average of two to three months for those eligible: diagnosis, restoring the social bond, counter-radical discourse and reintegration, Le Parisien said.

The subjects will be managed by psychologists, educators and social workers and will cover "a wide range of offences and crimes that reveal a radical drift of the suspect: advocating terrorism, public provocation of hatred or defamation", explains the paper.

The Alsace region was chosen because it is "one of the most affected by the jihadist phenomenon", says Thony, who adds that if it is successful that it could be applied in other French courts.

"We will carry out a first evaluation of effectiveness rather quickly, by the end of the year,” Thony said. “We will then see whether the concept needs to be refined, or whether to take another direction. We do not know what to expect.”

A similar de-radicalisation programme, focused on providing opportunity to reintegrate versus punishment, is based in northern Denmark. But there has been a push to establish one in France, which has the largest Muslim population in Europe and which is still reeling from the January terror attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher supermarket. The country has been the target of a number of attempted attacks in recent months.

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