Calls are growing to reinstate France’s state of emergency and crack down further against suspected Muslim extremists after last week’s terror attack that left four dead in southern France — and as the country prepares to bury the victims.
President Emmanuel Macron will be presiding over a national ceremony Wednesday in Paris to honor Arnaud Beltram — the policeman killed after trading places with a hostage during last week’s terrorist attack in southern France.
The nation will come together again on Thursday to mark the burial of Beltram and the three others gunned down by 25-year-old French-Moroccan radical Redouane Lakdim during a shooting spree last Friday.
The political fallout is growing as center and far-right politicians call for restoring a state of emergency in France, which ended last November.
During a National Assembly debate Tuesday, the parliament’s center-right Les Republicains party head Christian Jacob said the state of emergency, put in place after the 2015 Bataclan attacks, should never have been lifted. It was time, he said, to lock up those radicalized and tracked under France’s so-called ‘S’ file of potentially dangerous suspects. He said those of foreign origin should be expelled.
That would have included Moroccan-born Lakdim, whom police shot dead, ending a hostage-taking standoff at a southern French supermarket. Lakdim’s18-year-old girlfriend is being detained, and the Paris prosecutor has requested she be placed under formal investigation.
France has been hit by 20 terrorist attacks that have killed 245 people since 2014. Some opposition politicians accuse the Macron government of being naive and soft on terrorism. On the other side, rights groups have lambasted the government’s anti-terrorism legislation that replaced the state of emergency.
At the National Assembly, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe rejected calls for restoring the state of emergency and banning the ultra-conservative Salafi branch of Islam. He said France needs to fight terrorism with laws, and you cannot deprive people of their liberties based on suspicion.
Meanwhile, judges handed a former leftist parliamentary candidate a suspended prison sentence for appearing to celebrate policeman Beltram’s death in a tweet.