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17th Jan 2022

France relaunches security debate after Bastille Day attack

  • Soldiers were the lorry attack took place in Nice. Up to 10,000 military will remained mobilised (Photo: Reuters)

France has renewed its debate over security measures in the wake of the lorry attack that killed at least 84 people and injured more than 100 in Nice on Thursday (14 July).

"It is clear that we must do everything to fight against the plague of terrorism," president Francois Hollande said in a speech a few hours after the attack.

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He said national security would remain at the highest level, with up 10,000 military personnel mobilised, and that reservists would be recalled for duty.

He also decided to extend for three months the state of emergency that was declared after the Paris attacks last November and that was to have been lifted on 26 July.

The parliament's two houses are expected to adopt next Wednesday and Thursday (20-21 July) an extension until 26 October.

But several politicians have said these measures were inadequate.

Francois Fillon, a former center-right prime minister, said Friday morning that the state of emergency was "not enough" and that authorities should "use all intruments of [France's] law … to prevent attacks".

Eric Ciotti, an MP from the same center-right Republicans (LR) party and the chairman of a parliament inquiry on jihadist networks, said that France should be under a "permanent state of emergency because the threat is permanent".

A center-left MP, Olivier Falorni, said that "the state of emergency cannot be exceptional anymore, it must be permanent as long as we have a war to wage".

Meanwhile, the French government faced criticism over its general handling of the threat.

The charmain of the parliament inquiry on the Paris attacks, LR MP Georges Fenech, said that the attack in Nice was a "predictable tragedy" and that authorities should act "more strongly and differently".

Last week, the inquiry committee handed in its report and made 40 propositions to improve the fight against terrorism.

In the foreword of the report, Fenech said that existing measures were "not up to the challenge" posed by terrorism, which he said was "hardened by new fighting methods that were so far unexpected".

One of the inquiry committee's proposals was the creation of a unified national intelligence agency. But interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve rejected the idea, saying that it would serve only to add a layer of bureaucracy.

"We feel we worked for nothing," Fenech said Friday, adding that the inquiry committee wanted to "be listened to by the government".

'We need deeds'

The government is also under pressure from far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who is leading opinion polls ahead of next year's presidential election.

"Nothing of what we proposed has been done," she said Friday.

"Enough is enough, now we need deeds," she said.

She said that France should introduce a so-called double-sentence - when a foreign citizen is deported to his country of origin after serving a prison term. She also said it should close mosques where radicals preach and ban some Muslim organisations.

Le Pen called for terrorist convicts to be stripped of their French citizenship.

The measure had been announced by Hollande after the November attacks.

But the justice minister resigned in protest and the government had to give up because there was no majority in parliament to adopt the step.

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