French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a special congress gathering both houses of the parliament at the Versailles Palace, near Paris, France, July 3, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)
The French parliament has voted to extend a state of emergency in France for the sixth time, with the government announcing that it would be closing three more mosques as part of the measure.
On Thursday, French lawmakers voted 137 to 13 to extend the measure until November. It had been extended five times already.
The emergency state gives security forces greater freedom to carry out raids and surveillance. It also permits authorities to restrict the movement of people and vehicles at specific times and places.
Mosques deemed to be condoning terrorism would also be closed under the state of emergency.
“Today, there are three (mosques) that we want to close,” Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said on Thursday. “Since the start of the state of emergency, we’ve closed 16.”
It was the first time the state of emergency was being extended under French President Emmanuel Macron, who has vowed to lift it but also to have some of its measures turned into permanent law under a new bill.
Collomb also said that there was good reason for the emergency state to be extended.
“We certainly need to extend the state of emergency. Why? Because since the beginning of the year, we had already prevented seven attacks, which could have made a lot of victims,” Collomb said.
France has in the past couple of years been the target of frequent terrorist attacks, together killing more citizens than sporadic attacks in other European countries. A series of terrorist raids in November 2015 alone killed some 130 people and led the government of the then-President Francois Hollande to introduce the state of emergency for the first time.
People observe a moment of silence in memory of the victims of Paris terrorist attacks, at the Place de la Republique in the French capital, November 16, 2016. (File photo by Reuters)
The state of emergency and the bill proposed by President Macron’s government have both been criticized by civil rights groups, which say they restrict civil liberties.
French police evacuate refugee camp in northern Paris
Meanwhile, French authorities evacuated thousands of refugees from an illegal settlement in northern Paris on Friday Morning.
Hundreds of policemen and aid workers joined forces to evacuate over 2,500 refugees from the Le Chapelle district of Paris. They were bussed out to a number of temporary accommodations across the Paris region.
“These illegal camps present a security and public health risk for both the occupants and local residents,” Paris police said in a statement.
The French interior minister said earlier this week that the situation was getting out of hand with more than 400 refugee arrivals a week in the area.
“It’s always the same problem,” Collomb said on Thursday. “First off, you say ‘I’m going to open a center for 500 people’ and next thing you know, you have 3,000 or 4,000 people and you’re left having to sort the problem out.”