Sarkozy to strip some criminals of French nationality

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France's President Nicolas Sarkozy will next week launch moves to strip some foreign-born criminals of French nationality, a minister said Friday, with plans reportedly targeting polygamists.

Immigration Minister Eric Besson said Sarkozy would convene ministers next week to discuss amendments to plans he has announced to cancel citizenship for some crimes as part of his controversial law and order drive.

His "war on crime" also includes tearing down illegal Gypsy camps and deporting the Roma minority back to Bulgaria and Romania, sparking criticism from the United Nations, European Union and others.

Critics and political opponents have accused him of stigmatising minorities, promoting racial and social divisions and playing to the far-right in the hope of boosting his plunging popularity rating.

Launching the campaign earlier this month, Sarkozy said he planned to strip French nationality from foreign-born citizens convicted of endangering the lives of police or other public officials.

The daily Liberation reported Friday that Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux will also propose withdrawing citizenship from non-natives who practice polygamy and benefit from welfare payments to their extra spouses.

That measure was prompted by the case of Lies Hebbadj, a shop-owner in the western town of Nantes who made headlines in recent months after Hortefeux accused him of polygamy and welfare fraud.

Hortefeux's latest proposals also specify that the loss of nationality for those who attack police would apply to convicts who had held it for less than 10 years, the newspaper said.

He has also added to the list of public figures on whom attacks would yield the punishment, to include firefighters, attendants in buildings, jurors and lawyers, plus family members and other relations of such people.

Besson told RMC radio that Sarkozy would decide on Hortefeux's proposals next week.

Defending the measures, Besson added: "France is particularly generous in granting French nationality" to some 108,000 people a year.

© 2010 AFP

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