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France

France launches video campaign to halt would-be Syrian jihadists

© AFP archive photo | A screengrab from an Islamic State group propaganda video

Text by Tony TODD

Latest update : 2015-10-07

The French government on Wednesday launched a video campaign that includes a series of interviews with families whose children have travelled to Syria or Iraq to join militant Islamist groups.

The four videos (see below) reveal the anguish of siblings, mothers and fathers of radicalised youngsters, some just 17 years old, who have left the country to wage jihad in brutal conflicts across a self-styled “caliphate” in northern Iraq and Syria.

The young men and women are often victims of powerful propaganda produced by groups such as the so-called Islamic State group, the French government says. The French interior ministry said the aim of the campaign was to produce a “counter-message” to try to stem the tide of jihadists illegally leaving France for foreign battlefields.

The ministry’s “Stop Djihadisme” website also offers counselling for parents and would-be jihadists, alongside advice on how to spot a potential jihadist and what to do about it (including calling a free hotline launched in April 2014).

“There are 1,300 French individuals who have or are members of jihadist groups,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told RTL radio as the campaign was launched on Wednesday morning.

“Around 500 of these French citizens are in Iraq or Syria right now,” he added. “In France itself, there are hundreds, thousands even, of young people who are at risk of radicalisation. It’s a huge challenge and that is why we have mobilised families to get the message out.”

Date created : 2015-10-07

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