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France cut welfare benefits for 290 jihadists last year

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve answers questions in France's National Assembly on March 17, 2015
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve answers questions in France's National Assembly on March 17, 2015 François Guillot, AFP

France’s interior minister on Tuesday said that the government cut welfare benefits last year for 290 persons identified as jihadists.

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Bernard Cazeneuve told French lawmakers that the interior ministry had identified close to 300 individuals who had left France to wage jihad in Iraq or Syria, sharing their names with social welfare agencies.

The minister said that thanks to the government’s platform allowing people to report suspected cases of Islamic radicalisation “instances in which persons have travelled outside the national territory are immediately indicated to officials in charge of disbursing social benefits”.

Cazeneuve was answering a question from an opposition lawmaker who expressed concern over French citizens collecting welfare checks while fighting alongside Islamic extremist groups in the Middle East.

“These loopholes ... are not numerous,” Cazeneuve said.

“We shouldn't make a controversy of this subject or allow people to think no action has been taken. We're taking this seriously and will continue to do so,” the minister added.

France has recently adopted several measures to prevent its citizens from joining jihadist groups abroad and to curb the spread of Islamic radicalisation at home.

In February, six French citizens had their passports confiscated after allegedly planning to travel to Syria. This week the government moved to shut down several websites it said condoned terrorism.
 

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