News / Europe

    Hollande Drops Plan to Revoke Citizenship of Terrorists

    French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech on constitutional reform and the fight against terrorism at the end of the weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, March 30, 2016.
    French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech on constitutional reform and the fight against terrorism at the end of the weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, March 30, 2016.
    Lisa Bryant

    Blaming his political opponents, French President Francois Hollande abandoned plans Wednesday to push through deeply controversial constitutional changes that included stripping French citizenship from convicted terrorists and enshrining the state of emergency into the nation’s charter.

    “Part of the opposition has been hostile to all constitutional revisions,” Hollande said as he made his announcement, adding, “I deplore this attitude.”

    The move underscores the deep rifts over how to deal with terrorism four months after the attacks in Paris, and just a week after the Brussels bombings. The two appear to be closely linked.

    Both France and Belgium are grappling with how to respond to the terrorist threat, but Hollande’s push for constitutional changes and France’s current state of emergency — now in its fifth month — have been particularly divisive.

    While the constitutional amendments passed the socialist-controlled National Assembly, or lower house, earlier this year, the conservative-controlled Senate offered up a different version of the legislation, making its passage difficult, if not impossible.

    Casting blame

    A year before general elections, politicians on both sides of the aisle lost no time pointing fingers.

    “We are at the heart of Mr. Hollande’s system,” said former president Nicolas Sarkozy who heads the center-right Republicans party. “While promising everything and its contrary, piling lies upon lies, the reality is he is condemning the country to blockage and immobility.”

    But Socialist Party head Jean-Christophe Combadelis laid the blame squarely on the conservatives for failing to put aside partisan differences and “enter into a national union” to fight terrorism.

    Either way, analysts assess the fallout as a fresh setback for deeply unpopular Hollande, who is struggling to revive the economy and grow jobs before he faces reelection.

    “For Francois Hollande, this renouncement is a heavy political defeat, especially since he did everything to try to reunite Congress,” wrote the French newspaper La Croix.

    Hollande is additionally weakened within his own leftist ranks, where the legislation has likewise been divisive.  His  justice minister, Christiane Taubira, resigned in January over the nationality-stripping clause.

    Unfair to Muslims

    Rights groups also sounded the alarm over the measures.  

    “We are relieved the government finally realized the need for political and citizen debate over these fundamental rights such as stripping citizenship and the state of emergency,” said free speech advocacy officer Dominique Curis of Amnesty International France, reacting to the repeal of the measures.

    “Stripping citizenship is probably not the answer to terrorism,” she added. “There are more risks than benefits.”

    Even without being enshrined in the constitution, France’s current state of emergency — announced following November’s attacks that killed 130 people —  is still extremely controversial. Thousands of soldiers have been deployed across the country to guard sensitive sites, and police have been granted sweeping powers to search premises and place suspects under house arrest without court warrants.

    While many ordinary French supported the extrajudicial measures after November's attacks, rights groups and activists  denounce them as unfair and biased against France’s five-million strong Muslim community.

    “It’s arbitrarily targeted a whole population, who have been prevented to work, whose apartments and lives have been overturned because of suspicions based on almost nothing,” said Alexandre Piettre, a sociologist at the Societies, Religions and Secularity Group, a Paris-based think-tank.

    Strikingly, the Belgian government has not instituted a state of emergency following last week’s terror attacks, even though the attacks were eerily similar to those in Paris, with shared suspects.

    Former French anti-terrorist judge Marc Trevidic strongly urged Belgium not to follow France’s example, saying the emergency measures had led to mistakes and were only marginally effective.  

    “It makes no sense,” he told Belgium’s Le Soir newspaper. “It’s stupid. But nobody wants to say so.” 

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    by: Mario P.
    March 30, 2016 7:33 PM

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    March 30, 2016 2:21 PM
    The rate at which France is yielding to terrorism is bound to destroy it and any other (European) country that follows its example. The whole of Europe is in trouble today because many of the countries out there are following the leading of France to let in more fanatics, extremists and terrorists.

    In the last few days all of Europe and America have been sitting on edge with security alert raised to the highest. People no longer sleep with both eyes closed; No longer do people feel safe in public places nor are they free to express themselves in the once touted free Europe. Here is France relaxing measures aimed at checking terrorism. I think this must be premised on threats of more attacks by the terrorists.

    The best under these circumstances shouldn't be to yield more ground to them. They are like witchcraft which cannot be defeated by making peace(with them) or confronting without being sure to overwhelm. Only greater force than theirs can dislodge them, and France must show a resolve to cleanse Europe of this evil for posterity sake. Making peace with terrorism only means handing France over as the next caliphate.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora