The French National Assembly passed a controversial bill on Feb. 10 that would instate two Constitutional amendments. One amendment would allow people convicted of terror-related offenses to be stripped of their French citizenship. The other would codify the principle of a state of emergency.
The bill was first proposed by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls following the terror attacks in Paris in November 2015, the Associated Press reports.
While terrorism has become an issue at the forefront of French politics, the proposed bill is not a popular one and has divided both the ruling Socialist Party as well as its conservative opposition. The French government insists the measure would only affect a small number of people in the country but would be of highly symbolic value, according to the AP.
The Socialists were forced to remove a clause in the proposal which would have only targeted "dual-nationals" and instead extended the measure to all citizens of France.
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The French government's proposal is simply not the right one to combat terrorism. Instead of calling for citizens to unite together to fight terrorism, the government will be fostering more division within the country. The government already has many tools to combat extremism and the country has already issued a state of emergency in response to the Paris attacks, which would seem to make such legislation unnecessary to begin with.
Going further, it is difficult to see how this will foster a more integrated society which is less prone to terror attacks than it is now. It would seem to do the opposite, by fostering suspicion of citizens based on national origin and essentially establishing tiers of citizenship into the constitution, as Human Rights First notes. Passing the law would also strengthen the "clash of civilizations" argument often made by extremists.
A better way to handle the situation would be to follow the approaches of U.S. President Barack Obama or even former U.S. President George W. Bush. Bush promoted outreach to American Muslims and mosques in the wake of 9/11, while Obama's Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) initiative is at the center of the U.N. Secretary General's Plan of Action on Preventing Violent Extremism, according to Human Rights First.
A vote on the two constitutional initiatives will take place in the French Senate during March.