Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Competing narratives in Malaysia Airlines disaster coverage

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Kenya : Police arrest 8 over Mombasa rampage

Read more

FOCUS

Overfishing and the global appetite for bluefin tuna: can Tokyo turn the tide?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Too many graphic images from Gaza ?

Read more

FASHION

Who's next in Paris, an event with international ready-to-wear and fashion accessories collections

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Muslims and Christians clean up Bangui, and violence spirals out of control in Algeria's Gardaia

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Is there such thing as 'telegenic' victims of war?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

2014-07-22 07:21 IN THE FRENCH PRESS

Read more

  • Israel hits targets in Gaza despite diplomatic efforts for ceasefire

    Read more

  • Flight MH17 shot down ‘by mistake', US intelligence indicates

    Read more

  • Defying UK, France to proceed with sale of warship to Russia

    Read more

  • US courts issue conflicting reports on Obamacare

    Read more

  • Video: Lebanon fears fallout from regional turmoil

    Read more

  • Widodo wins Indonesian presidential election

    Read more

  • US, European airlines suspend flights to Tel Aviv over Israel-Gaza conflict

    Read more

  • Australian veteran Rogers claims 16th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • France gives go-ahead to pro-Palestinian Paris rally

    Read more

  • French Jews mourn French-Israeli soldier killed in Gaza

    Read more

  • PSG punished by UEFA for abuse of disabled Chelsea fans

    Read more

  • Colombia's Rodriguez signs '€80m' contract with Real Madrid

    Read more

  • Children killed in minibus crash in eastern France

    Read more

  • A call for harmony in riot-hit ‘Little Jerusalem’ Paris suburb

    Read more

Middle east

At least 50 French citizens ‘waging jihad in Syria’

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-03-13

A leading French anti-terror judge has told French media he is worried about the implication of large numbers of French Muslims heading to Syria to fight a holy war against the Damascus regime.

As many as 80 French citizens are fighting with rebel groups in Syria, according to a report in French daily Le Figaro published Wednesday.

The number is far higher than the “handful” said by French Interior Minister Manuel Valls to be operating alongside Islamists in Mali, or the estimated number of Frenchmen who went to Bosnia, Iraq or Afghanistan to wage “jihad”, or Muslim holy war.

Le Figaro quoted two such fighters. One, named only as Djamel, said he was fighting the “infamy” of the Bashar al Assad regime in a conflict that the United Nations estimates has claimed more than 70,000 lives in two years.

The second, Abdel Rahman Ayachi, had “returned to the land of his ancestors to spread Islam ahead of the anticipated collapse of the [Assad] regime,” the newspaper said.

Leading French anti-terrorism Judge Marc Trévidic told Le Figaro that the presence of so many French jihadists in Syria presents an uncomfortable paradox for the authorities in France, which was the first western country to recognise Syria’s rebel council as the country’s legitimate interlocutors.

‘Authorised jihad'

While French Islamists caught fighting in Mali against their own countrymen provoked outrage and condemnation, those waging battle in a war officially supported by France are doing so in a particularly grey area.

Syria, Trévidic explained, was a straightforward destination for French jihadists. There are no visa requirements to enter neighbouring Turkey, where it is easy to find Syrian contacts and then cross a porous border.

“No one is trying to stop them going into Syria,” Trévidic said, referring to their fight as an “authorised jihad”, a term borrowed from France’s chief diplomat Laurent Fabius. “Things are not at all clear."

“It’s particularly complicated to qualify their adventures in Syria as acts of terrorism,” Trévidic added, hinting that trained and experienced jihadists could become a dangerous problem for the authorities once back in France.

“Let’s not be fooled. A good proportion of them are going there in the hope of helping establish a radical Islamic state. The actual terrorism will begin just as soon as the Assad regime is defeated.”

French-Belgian jihadist Abdel Rahman Ayachi told Le Figaro: “I am fighting to see the Assad regime destroyed, and also to help found an Islamic state. But don’t worry; once this is done I have no intention of coming back to France or Belgium.”
 

Date created : 2013-03-13

  • Iraq

    Al Qaeda claims killing of 48 Syrian soldiers in Iraq

    Read more

  • IRAQ

    Syrian soldiers killed in Iraq ambush

    Read more

COMMENT(S)