THE RESPONSE TO TERRORISM: STRIPPING CITIZENS OF THEIR NATIONALITY?

by Eve Lacroix

2015 was a turning point in French security. After the attack of the 7th of January on the satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo, and the multiple coordinated attacks in Parisian public spaces on the 13th of November, French President François Hollande decided to retaliate with a hardline approach, including a joint operation with the US forces of 20 airstrikes on the town of Raqqa in Syria.

After the November Paris attacks, President Hollande declared France in a state of emergency for three months. Those three months are soon coming to an end, and he plans to prolonge this measure when it runs out on the 26th of February. The state of emergency permits officials and police officers to raid houses and impose house arrests of suspected terrorists without passing first through the court. It is clear that this problem is ongoing. In the newspaper Le Figaro, a government report is cited stating that the number of radicalised individuals reported to authorities doubled since April 2015.

In his speech after the Paris attacks, one of President Hollandes central measures soon going into discussion is the right to remove the French citizenship of binational individuals in terrorist movements. Current legislation in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that binationals convicted of acts of terrorism can be stripped of their French citizenship if they are French by naturalisation, or have only had the French citizenship for ten years.

However, President François Hollande has decided to go further and put forth a law proposal which, if passed, would allow binationals convicted of terrorist acts to be stripped of their French nationality even if they are French by birth. This decision comes as a surprise from the Socialist President, as it is a law proposition that has been supported for a long time by the Front National, the far right party.

Meeting 1er mai 2012 Front National

( Front National © debatingeurope.eu )

Some critics have aired views that stripping citizens of their nationalities will have no real impact in the surveillance programme France is undertaking of its citizens in the fight against terrorism. Green party figure and former fraud prosecutor Eva Joly is quotes saying Its a measure with no practical significance. Its purely symbolic and political.”  However, in a survey by Ifop published in the Journal du Dimanche, an overwhelming majority of 81% of respondents were favourable to this measure.

The most prominent criticism has come the now-former Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira. She published an essay just shy of 100 pages named Murmures à la Jeunesse (this translates to murmurs to the youth) on the 1st of February, a mere five days before her public resignation. She tweeted, sometimes resisting means staying, sometimes resisting means leaving. To be true to myself and us (French citizens). To have the last word on ethics and rights. Indeed, her role in the government meant she would have had to present and support this law to the High Court, despite her numerous and public condemnations of it. Indeed it was Christiane Taubira who formally introduced the legalisation of same-sex marriage in France in 2013.

( Christiane Taubira © lejournalduparlement.fr )

( Christiane Taubira © lejournalduparlement.fr )

Her book went on sale four days before the start of the examination of this law to the Assemblée nationale, which begins today. The book, however, is not a condemnation of the French President François Hollande, rather than an utmost conviction and condemnation of the idea of stripping the French nationality from binational citizens. In her essay, she writes, We must admit it: a country needs to be capable of dealing with its citizens. What would become of the world if it banished all its birthright citizens, considered undesirable? Must we imagine a waste dump land in which they would all be lumped together?

Her argument is that this law creates distinctions between citizens. Doing so would counter the French national motto Liberté, égalité, fraternité (liberty, equality, fraternity). Indeed, this law-proposal smells like racism by valuing purely French-holding passport citizens over others.

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