French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (pictured) will submit an anti-radicalisation plan to the cabinet on Wednesday aimed at stopping youths from joining jihadist groups in Syria.
France is set to unveil a new anti-radicalisation plan aimed at French citizens or residents believed to be at risk of involvement in violent extremism amid concerns over the growing numbers of youths joining the jihad in Syria.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve will present the anti-radicalisation strategy to the French cabinet on Wednesday following months of intensive research and coordination by his ministry.
The comprehensive strategy is designed to combat radicalism from the early stages of cyber indoctrination to the advanced phase of jihadist volunteers travelling to the battlefield or zone of operation, according to French officials.
“Our plan is to tackle this upstream [at the source], and all the way downstream,” said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in an interview with a French radio station Tuesday. “We will identify young people caught on this tragic path. We will monitor this online, and then we must stop them from crossing the Syrian border, and monitor their return and reintegration.”
The new anti-radicalisation strategy comes as senior officials have raised the alarm over the growing ranks of French youths joining jihadist groups in Syria.
The French Interior Ministry estimates that nearly 700 French citizens or residents have made their way into Syria since the conflict began. About 15% of them are women, who typically accompany their jihadist husbands, sometimes with their children.
In February, FRANCE 24 featured the exclusive testimony of a 27-year-old Frenchman who left his Paris home with his wife and her two young daughters [from a previous marriage] to join a jihadist group in Syria.
According to the London-based International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation the current mobilisation of jihadists bound for Syria is more significant than every other instance of foreign fighter mobilisation since the Afghanistan war in the 1980s.
Learning from the British experience
The French plan to be unveiled Wednesday includes more than 20 concrete measures, including some decisions which will have an immediate impact as well as long-term provisions requiring regulatory or legislative changes, according the French daily, Le Figaro.
The provision includes the re-introduction of legal authorisation for minors to leave the country. One of the key policy changes is aimed at enabling families to alert the authorities if they fear a relative has been attending fundamentalist mosques or frequenting radical websites. The plan will also provide families with help and professional advice on how to handle radicalised youth, according to French media reports.
With a history of jihadist threats dating back to the 1990s Algerian civil war – when the Islamist GIA (Armed Islamic Group) conducted the deadly 1995 Paris metro attack – France has among the most comprehensive surveillance programmes in Western Europe.
But it has lagged behind Britain in implementing anti-radicalisation strategies in recent years.
French Interior Minister Cazeneuve has drawn from the experience of a British government anti-radicalisation unit set up last year following the May 22 killing of British Army soldier Lee Rigby on a busy London street by two British youths, according to French media reports.
On April 30, Cazeneuve will attend a conference in London, which will bring together his counterparts in the UK, Germany and Belgium, countries that have seen the highest number of West European nationals or residents making their way to join jihadist groups in Syria.
Date created : 2014-04-22