France's state of emergency under scrutiny, while terror apologists stand trial
The first court procedures to contest house arrests imposed under France's state of emergency, went before French courts on Friday. One month after the deadly Paris attacks, which have sparked a nationwide security crackdown, complaints are emerging over the dragnet approach of security forces. Whilst at the same time, more people are being charged with condoning terrorism.
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A criminal court in Caen, in the northwest of France, sentenced an 18 year old Frenchman to three years in prison on Thursday, of which two years behind bars.
His crime? Posting more than 70 tweets on Twitter praising the November 13 Paris attacks carried out by the Islamic State group.
"My best memory of the Bataclan, I'm in hysterics," he wrote on Twitter, in reference to the concert hall, where the most number of victims were killed.
The suspect is also accused of writing threatening messages--still on the same social website--to France's leading cleric Hassen Chalghoumi, considered to be a moderate Muslim.
During his hearing, the suspect expressed his remorse and apologized for "joking around," to which prosecutors replied "if it was just a joke, it lasted a long time."
Indeed, in six months, the suspect posted more than 70 pages of tweets condoning terrorism.
His punishment is designed to serve as a deterrent to other future terror apologists, and may set a precedent for the new case against a friend of Omar Ismail Mostefai, one of the gunmen who attacked the Bataclan concert hall. He is also being accused of condoning terrorism.
Yet, terror apologists are not the only ones under scrutiny. The country itself is facing the heat over its emergency measures, which human rights groups claim are being taken too far.
Instances of armed police breaking down front doors with battering rams in the middle of the night, searching homes, handcuffing residents and placing people under house arrest without warrants have multiplied in the last month.
On Friday, France's highest administrative court was set to examine complaints by several people against house arrest orders. It's not yet clear what action will be taken.
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