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French Lawmakers Want To Make Some Emergency Measures Permanent

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

France's state of emergency following last year's Paris terrorist attacks is still in force. That includes house arrest and warrantless searches. This week, French lawmakers are debating whether to amend the Constitution to make some of those emergency measures permanent, and it added this - convicted terrorists who hold dual citizenship would be stripped of their French citizenship. That is controversial but generally the French support the tougher laws. And for more, we reached historian and political analyst Nicole Bacharan in Paris. Good morning.

NICOLE BACHARAN: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: Let's start with the citizenship proposal. It is controversial enough that the justice minister quit last week in protest. What is likely to happen in France's legislature, the National Assembly?

BACHARAN: Well, I think the government isn't going to give up on this because it's a symbol. It's a way of expressing anger. But what they are going to be able to push through is pretty much an empty shell. Stripping people of their citizenship is already a possibility in the law. It's pointless on the issue of terror. I mean, people who are going to blow themselves up don't care about their passports. You know, we hear that when they go to see Syria, they burn their French passports. But that issue of dual citizenship is aimed at people who come from North Africa, those immigrants who are already, you know, pointed out as the possible culprit of terrorism. I mean, to me, it's very symbolic in the wrong way.

MONTAGNE: Although if it's aimed at people from North Africa, the fact is most of the attackers have been French, not either dual nationals nor coming from someplace else.

BACHARAN: Absolutely. We do have a real problem in France with homegrown terror. And most of the people involved are French. But if they have a dual citizenship, it would be mostly from North Africa. I mean, really to me it's very, very wrong to change the constitution under the pressure of terror.

MONTAGNE: Now, a number of these proposed changes, as I've just said, are in effect because of the state of emergency. Is there evidence that they have been effective?

BACHARAN: It's very hard to demonstrate that certain tools used against terror have been effective. I mean, we do not count the attacks that could have occurred. So far, we hear that there have been over 3,000 police raids since the attacks in November and that about 300 people are currently under house arrest. You know, is the proportion right? Out of people who are the subjects of these police raids, treated right when they have nothing to be guilty of? We are not sure about that.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: Political analyst Nicole Bacharan joined us from Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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