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French ex-justice minister publishes scathing criticism of citizenship debate

Jewel Samad, AFP | France's former justice minister Christiane Taubira at a conference in New York on January 29, 2016

France’s former justice minister Christiane Taubira has slammed a government proposal to strip citizenship from French-born dual nationals convicted of terrorism in a new book that will appear in stores on Tuesday.


Written in secret, 40,000 copies of the text were printed in Spain before being shipped to France to avoid any leaks prior to its publication.

Titled “Murmures à la jeunesse” (“Murmurings to youth”), the 96-page book is addressed directly to France’s youth, and is a scathing criticism of a government proposal to strip French-born dual nationals of citizenship if convicted of terrorism.

The book’s release comes less than a week after Taubira resigned from the government over the measure, which was put forward by President François Hollande in the aftermath of the November 13 attacks in Paris. The National Assembly is due to debate a revised version of the proposal, which would require a constitutional amendment, on Friday.

In “Murmures à la jeunesse” Taubira describes the measure as “inefficient”, arguing that it will do little to dissuade would-be attackers.

“Forfeiture of nationality: Perhaps it’s a lot of noise over nothing? Perhaps it would be more reasonable to let it go? I’m not sure of anything, other than that I never would have been able to find peace if I had put a gag order on my conscience,” she writes.

She also questions the proposal’s symbolism, warning against its broader implications.

“Let us dare say it: A country should be able to handle its own nationals. What would become of the world if every country deported birthright citizens who are considered undesirable? Should we imagine a landfill where they will all be put together?” she writes.

Taubira goes on to argue that the proposal also sets a dangerous precedent that can be used to target anyone with dual citizenship.

“[It’s] a threat: those who are obsessed by differences, maniacs of exclusion … will use it, and have already with their paranoid and conspiratorial comments, to pressure those who are perceived as a fifth column,” she writes, using an old term for a group of people who seek to undermine a nation.

As justice minister, Taubira was supposed to be in charge of convincing members of parliament to vote for the constitutional amendments needed to turn the proposal into law.

In addition to the citizenship debate, Taubira also discusses the challenges of tackling the threat of terrorism in more general terms in her text, which was written before her resignation from office.

A veteran politician known for her oratory skills, Taubira was appointed justice minister by Hollande in 2012 after his election to the presidency. An advocate of equal rights, she has been credited with being the driving force behind the legalisation of same-sex marriage in France in 2013.

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