French lower house approves bill to crack down on jihadists

18th September 2014, Comments 0 comments

France's lower house National Assembly Thursday approved an "anti-terrorism" bill which will usher in a travel ban on anyone suspected of planning to wage jihad abroad.

The bill comes as authorities are increasingly concerned about the number of French citizens travelling to fight in Iraq and Syria who could potentially come back and stage attacks in their home country.

It includes the travel ban, which would see suspects have their passports and ID cards confiscated for six months, renewable for up to two years, as well as punishment for "lone wolves" who plan terrorist attacks on their own.

The bill also allows authorities to ask Internet service providers to block access to sites that praise "acts of terrorism" -- modelled on existing rules against child pornography sites.

It was approved by most political groups at the National Assembly and will be debated by the upper house Senate next month.

But the Greens abstained on the vote because they believe there are not enough legal guarantees in the bill that freedoms will be respected.

According to Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, around 930 French citizens including at least 60 women, are either actively engaged in jihad in Iraq and Syria or are planning to go there, a 74-percent increase in eight months.

Earlier this week, six people were detained in eastern France on suspicion of recruiting candidates for jihad.

According to a police source, one of the suspects was linked to Forsane Alizza (Knights of Pride), an Islamist extremist group that had called for France to become an Islamic caliphate and was banned in 2012.

© 2014 AFP

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