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French massively against return of jihadists to face justice

A gathering point in Deir Ezzor province, Syria, for civilians and families of jihadists fleeing fighting between the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Islamic State group.
A gathering point in Deir Ezzor province, Syria, for civilians and families of jihadists fleeing fighting between the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Islamic State group. RFI / Sami Boukhelifa

A new survey shows that a large majority of the French population does not want French jihadists captured in Syria, including around 80 children, to return. A trial in Iraq could expose some of them to the death penalty.

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Daily Le Figaro conducted an opinion poll that shows 82 percent of the population are against the repatriation of French nationals who joined the Islamic State armed group in Syria.

Partisans of all political parties largely favour this opinion.

Ninety percent of supporters of the right-wing Republicans party and 62 percent of the far-left France Unbowed believe that captured French jihadists should be tried in Iraq.

Some 89% of the population, all political tendencies combined, believe that the jihadists' return represents a danger for France.

On social media, people are unequivocal about the repatriation of French jihadists, a representative of Odaxa-Dentsu Consulting (who conducted the survey) told Le Figaro.

Many advocate revoking the jihadists' French nationality as an option.

'Heaven will wait', by Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar, is a film about a vulnerable French woman who joined the Islamic State in Syria

Thirteen captured French jihadists may face death penalty

According to French government sources, some 1,700 radicalised French citizens joined the Islamic State group in Syria since 2004.

Earlier this week, 13 captured French fighters, accused of belonging to IS, were handed over to Iraqi authorities by Kurdish forces.

Iraq's president Barham Salim says they will be tried according to Iraqi law, which could lead them to face the death penalty.

However, the arrested fighters have the right to consular assistance, the Iraqi president specified.

The French authorities said that all the jihadists returning to France will be arrested and brought to justice.
The French authorities said that all the jihadists returning to France will be arrested and brought to justice. Bulent KILIC / AFP

Uncertain future for jihadist's children

Hicham al-Hachémi, a specialist in matters concerning jihad, told news agency AFP that some 50 adults and 80 children, all French nationals, were being held and could be repatriated to France.

When it comes to the jihadists' children, the poll shows that opinions are divided. However, a large majority in France (62%) favour leaving the children in Iraq.

Odaxa consulting's study states that some of these children are now orphans and many others are traumatised by indescribable violence. Their parents will "probably be condemned to long prison sentences or to the death penalty", the consulting agency says.

On Thursday families of French jihadists detained in Syria lodged a complaint against France with the United Nation's Commitee of the Rights of the Child (CRC).

Their grievance is against France's 'inaction' in response to the detained children in Syria.

President Emmanuel Macron confirmed this week that France had no specific programme that provided for the return of these jihadists.

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