France moves to block anti-US protests over film
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France's Interior Minister Manuel Valls said on Sunday that any further anti-US protests over an amateur film deemed insulting to Islam would be banned, a day after some 150 demonstrators were arrested near the US embassy in Paris.
France's interior minister said he will prevent any further anti-US demonstrations sparked by an anti-Islam film that has triggered sometimes deadly protests across the globe.
France’s cabinet is reviewing a new anti-terrorism bill targeting French citizens who travel abroad – particularly to Pakistan or Afghanistan – for terrorism training, the interior ministry reported in late September.
“Young people from our very own neighbourhoods may be affected by this ideology of hate through the Internet, through trips to countries like Afghanistan or Pakistan”, Interior Minister Manuel Valls said in an interview with French television channel, France 2.
A source close to the issue told AFP that the bill allows authorities to prosecute French citizens who return to the country after “having committed an act of terrorism abroad, or who travel overseas, particularly to the Afghan or Pakistan region, to train in terrorism camps with the intention of coming back to France”.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
The warning came a day after police in Paris detained around 150 people for taking part in an unauthorised impromptu protest near the US embassy that saw three officers slightly hurt after a number of clashes.
"I have issued instructions so that this does not happen again," Interior Minister Manuel Valls told France 2 television. "These protests are forbidden. Any incitement to hatred must be fought with the greatest firmness."
Valls said that among the roughly 250 protesters on Saturday there were some groups that "advocate radical Islam", but they were not representative of the moderate Islam practised by most Muslims in France.
Also on Sunday the Paris prosecutor’s office opened an investigation into the unauthorized protest. The prosecutor will look into how such a large demonstration was organized without the proper permits, according to spokeswoman Agnes Thibault Lecuivre.
In the wake of Saturday’s clashes, uniformed and plain-clothes police were added to the streets surrounding the embassy, police officer Pierre Coric told AP news agency.
France is home to Europe's largest Islamic community, with at least four million Muslims in the country.
A wave of anti-American protests erupted across the globe last week over a film made by amateur filmmakers based in the United States, entitled "Innocence of Muslims", which has offended some Muslims because of its insulting depiction of the Prophet Mohammed.
FRANCE 24 with wires
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