New security measures likely to combat terrorism in France

French soldiers outside Jewish school, Paris, Jan 12, 2015.
French soldiers outside Jewish school, Paris, Jan 12, 2015. Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

France’s 717 synagogues and Jewish schools are to be protected by police or security forces from today in reaction to last week's terrorist attacks.


Meanwhile, the day after a huge show of unity in France in the aftermath of the attacks, politicians are concentrating on the issue of possible new security measures, among other ways of combating terrorism.

Speaking on French radio this morning, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said islamist prisoners suspected of trying to radicalise other detainees would be put in solitary confinement

And he said a parliamentary enquiry would almost certainly be set up to try to learn lessons from the bloody events of last week.

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For the opposition right wing UMP party, former president Nicolas Sarkozy also wants a parliamentary enquiry.

During an interview on Monday on French radio station RTL, he outlined some other measures he would like to see introduced.

He declared that France should adopt the PNR system used in the USA which allows the collection of data given to airlines, lamenting that the introduction of the system was currently blocked at EU level, notably by the Greens.

He too favours the isolation of prisoners suspected of trying to propagate jihadism while in jail.

Sarkozy said that people who leave France to fight in Syria or on other jihadi missions should not be allowed to return to France, even if they are French citizens.

Asked whether such people should be stripped of French nationality he replied “We may consider that, but that will not do much to improve security in France, it is more symbolic.”

Sarkozy also proposed that municipal police, currently unarmed, should be armed.

Frequently criticised for facilitating Qatari investment in France while he was president, by those who point to Qatari funding behind fundamentalist islamists, Sarkozy declared that Qatar is a “friend of France”.

Front National leader Marine Le Pen has been loud in her condemnation of Sarkozy for doing nothing to stop Qatar buying up interests in France, a trend which has continued during Hollande’s presidency.

On French television this morning, she declared “We cannot continue to accept having privileged relations with Qatar. Everybody knows, except perhaps Monsieur Fabius (France’s foreign minister) and Nicolas Sarkozy, that [Qatar] finances terrorism and fundamentalist islamists.”

Le Pen dismissed the idea of a parliamentary enquiry, saying “Each time someone wants to bury a problem, they set up a parliamentary enquiry.

Le Pen said France must now “take urgent decisions”, notably concerning the “control of its borders”.

However she does not want to introduce a French version of the Patriot Act passed in the US after 9/11 “this type of measure uses the danger of terrorism as an excuse but in reality it is aimed at restricting our freedom of expression and our general liberty.”

“We have good intelligence services in France,” she said, “all that is necessary is better funding.”

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