France to strip citizenship from terrorists

France's lower house of parliament narrowly passes law to strip people convicted of terrorist offences of their French nationality.

Ben Ariel ,

ISIS attack in Paris
ISIS attack in Paris

Lawmakers in France's lower house of parliament on Tuesday night narrowly voted to pass a highly controversial proposal to amend the constitution to strip people convicted of terrorist offences of their French nationality, AFP reported.

The measure, passed by 162 votes to 148 with 22 abstentions, followed weeks of debate after it was proposed as part of a set of measures by President Francois Hollande in the wake of the jihadist attacks in Paris in November that killed 130 people.

The nationality measure has strong public support but has deeply divided Hollande's ruling Socialist Party.

Christiane Taubira resigned as justice minister late last month over her opposition to it and Hollande's former prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has publicly condemned the amendment, noted AFP.

Socialist lawmakers, those from former president Nicolas Sarkozy's right-wing Republicans party and the centrist party UDI party, voted in favor of the measure, but Socialist fringe parties and most of the ecologist lawmakers were opposed.

Lawmakers will vote on Wednesday on the collective package of measures proposed by Hollande. They voted on Monday in favor of the other key measure in the package, the move to enshrine the state of emergency in the constitution, thus giving security forces greater powers.

Earlier Tuesday, parliament overwhelmingly voted to extend the current state of emergency by another three months.

Rights groups say police are abusing their powers under the state of emergency, but the government argues that it is an essential step to protect the nation at a time when France could face another jihadist attack, noted AFP.

Since the November attacks, France has continued to crack down on jihadists and their supporters. Last month, a key French member of the Islamic State (ISIS) group who had ties to the Charlie Hebdo attackers, was sentenced in absentia by a Paris court to 15 years in prison.

Many of the attackers in both a rampage last January and the massacre in November were known to French security services, having either traveled abroad to fight with terrorists or been prevented from doing so.

Also last month, a 15-year-old ISIS supporter of Kurdish origin slashed a Jewish teacher with a machete in Marseille, and later said he was "proud" of his attack.