France Cracks Down on Radical Islam, Arresting 19

Policemen (GIPN) take part in a search in Coueron, western France as part of dawn raids in several French cities, March 30, 2012.
Policemen (GIPN) take part in a search in Coueron, western France as part of dawn raids in several French cities, March 30, 2012.
Lisa Bryant

French President Nicolas Sarkozy says more suspected Muslim extremists will be rounded up, following a series of arrests Friday in operations around the country. The arrests are part of a larger crackdown against radical Islam following a string of killings by an al-Qaida-inspired gunman.

Interviewed on France's Europe 1 radio Friday, President Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed police commandos had staged a series of early morning raids around the country, rounding up 19 suspected Muslim radicals.

Mr. Sarkozy said police had seized a number of weapons, notably Kalashnikov rifles. He said more operations will continue and some people will be expelled from the country.

Mr. Sarkozy's interior minister, Claude Gueant, provided more details, saying those arrested embraced an extremely violent, jihadist and combat ideology.

Speaking to reporters following a meeting with Muslim associations, Gueant says the government and the Muslim groups are united in fighting against radical Islam. He says the laws of the French Republic must protect Islam, which is the faith of about 5 million people living in the country.

Gueant says those arrested include the head of a banned Muslim group called Forsane Alizza, or "Knights of Pride." The group is known for having called for a boycott of McDonald's in the French city of Limoges, on grounds of serving Israel.

In a radio interview, French journalist Mohammed Sifaoui, who has penetrated the group, describes Forsane Alizza as an activist organization that has harassed a number of secular personalities in France. He says they could just be considered bearded people trying to disrupt things - but he says this also fits the background of terrorist groups.

The arrests are part of a larger crackdown against radical Islam following a string of killings this month by Islamist Mohammed Merah.

Separately, the government has banned six Islamic preachers from entering the country to participate in a Muslim conference in Paris next week. It said some had called for hate and violence and risked upsetting public order. Those barred include prominent Egyptian preacher Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi.

Merah was buried Thursday in Toulouse a week after he died in a firefight with French police following a shooting spree in which he shot dead seven people, including two Muslims and four Jews. Just what kind of terrorist ties he has remains unclear, but his older brother, Abdelkader, has been charged with complicity in the attacks.

The Toulouse killings have shaken the nation. Muslim and Jewish leaders organized a joint march to commemorate the victims last Sunday.

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Comment Sorting
by: Gab to Cha Cha Cohen, what is your solution?
April 02, 2012 5:25 AM
Why do always try to deflect from the actual problem at hand? What is your need to protect this Islamic ideology? Political Islam does not support any of your liberal causes, they do not support you as a woman, and there is certainly no loved lost for your Jewish heritage. Maybe you can be more specific about your solution to the problem of radical Islam.

by: Battal Gazi
April 01, 2012 2:36 AM
Danny Breeze's comment is full of provocation. Everybody commenting here must pay attention about religion and show respect to each other..To blame the Islam because of the killings will just be helpfull to grow anger.

by: Cha Cha Cohen
March 31, 2012 11:43 AM
Extermination and expurgation do not protect nation. Look immigrant like Sarkozy(Hungarian father & Greek jewish mother) saving France (!) from disaster and his Italian wife making France
famous & well known in the world!

by: Danny Breeze
March 31, 2012 11:22 AM
Please Arrest Mohammad he is the conspirator! If you support Mohammad's life and writings then you become radical too! Islam needs changed and Mohammad needs the position of lost prophet gone wrong.

by: Bhalchandra
March 30, 2012 5:18 PM
France's Sarkozy is doing the right thing in protecting France from the Islamic extremist mindless violence.
Many other countries like U.K., Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, India will do well to follow France's example.

by: truth
March 30, 2012 4:22 PM
Islam is a cult created by a psychopath. It cannot be reformed. It must be eradicated. Islam must be eradicated not because the Quran says Earth is flat or the shooting stars are missiles that Allah fires at the Jinns who climb the heaven to eavesdrop on the conversation of the exalted assembly. These stupid tales could even amuse us. Islam must go because it teaches hate, it orders killing of non-Muslims, it denigrates women and it violates the human rights.

by: Anti-extremist
March 30, 2012 4:57 AM
>Merah's father has announced plans to file a lawsuit against French police.
Like father, like son.

by: Sadiq
March 30, 2012 4:30 AM
They should be hunted like wild dogs for spilling innocent blood in the name of a sick religion.

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