As France’s last known hope – Marine Le Pen – advances to the French presidential runoff and after yet another Muslim terror attack in Paris last week, a breakdown of events in France this past March.
by Soeren Kern
- Yussuf K. said he carried out the January 2016 attack “in the name of Allah and the Islamic State.” He added that he chose his victim because “he was Jewish.”
- A confidential police report revealed that more than 50 organizations in Molenbeek, a migrant-dominated neighborhood of Brussels, Belgium, are believed to have ties to jihadist terrorism.
- An Ipsos poll for France Television and Radio France found that 61% of the French believe that Islam is incompatible with French society.
March 2. In a landmark trial at the Paris Children’s Court, a 17-year-old Turkish jihadist, identified only as Yussuf K., was sentenced to seven years in prison for attacking Benjamin Amsellem, a Jewish teacher in Marseille, with a machete. Yussuf K. said he carried out the January 2016 attack “in the name of Allah and the Islamic State.” He added that he chose his victim because “he was Jewish.” Yussuf K. was charged with “an individual terrorist attempt and attempted assassination in connection with a terrorist enterprise,” with the aggravating circumstance of anti-Semitism. He was tried as a minor because he was 15 when he carried out the attack. The criminal trial of a minor on terror charges was the first of its kind in France, where some fifty children are currently being investigated for jihadist offenses.
March 2. The European Parliament voted to lift the immunity from prosecution for National Front leader Marine Le Pen for tweeting images of Islamic State violence. Under French law, publishing violent images can be punished by up to three years in prison and a fine of €75,000 euros ($79,000). Le Pen, a leading candidate in this year’s French presidential election, posted the images in response to a journalist who compared her party’s anti-immigration stance to the Islamic State. Le Pen denounced the legal proceedings against her as political interference in the campaign and called for a moratorium on judicial investigations until the election period has passed.
March 4. The mayor of the French port of Calais, Natacha Bouchart, signed a decree prohibiting aid groups from distributing meals to migrants and refugees at the site of the former “Jungle” migrant camp. The decree said food distribution by charities had led to large numbers of people gathering at the site of the now-closed camp, with fights breaking out and risks posed to the safety of local residents.
March 6. President François Hollande vowed to “do everything in his power” to prevent Marine Le Pen from winning the upcoming presidential election in France. Polls have suggested that Le Pen, leader of the National Front party, may win the first round of France’s election on April 23. Le Pen, who has campaigned on an anti-immigration platform, has also vowed to hold a referendum on France’s membership of the European Union. Hollande, who decided not to run for a second term, said it was his “ultimate duty to do everything to ensure that France is not convinced by such a plan” to take France out of the EU.
March 7. The 17th Criminal Tribunal of Paris acquitted the Moroccan-born French-Jewish scholar Georges Bensoussan of hate speech charges. The Collective against Islamophobia in France (Collectif Contre l’Islamophobie en France, CCIF) filed a lawsuit against Bensoussan, 64, for “public incitement to discrimination, hatred and violence against a group of people because of their religious affiliation” because of remarks he made on Radio France about Muslim anti-Semitism. He said:
“There will be no integration until we get rid of this atavistic anti-Semitism that is kept secret. It so happens that an Algerian sociologist, Smain Laacher, with great courage said that ‘it is a disgrace to maintain this taboo, namely that in Arab families in France and elsewhere everyone knows that anti-Semitism is spread with the mother’s milk.'”
In its ruling, the court said the plaintiffs failed to prove the charges of hate speech: “Bensoussan cannot be blamed to have aroused or wished to arouse a feeling of hostility or rejection against a group of persons and, even less, to have explicitly called for specific acts against the group.” The judges added that the expression “anti-Semitism, it is sucked with the mother’s milk” is a figure of speech, not the expression of “biological racism.”
March 12. Mohammad Khan Wazir, a 30-year-old migrant from Afghanistan, was sentenced by the Criminal Court of Grasse (Alpes-Maritimes) to 18 months in prison for threatening to assassinate the city’s judges. Wazir was visiting his three-year-old son, named Djihad (the French word for “jihad”), whom judges placed under state care in Grasse, when he allegedly said that he wanted to “go to court with a Kalashnikov to kill them all.” After Wazir left Afghanistan in 2007, he met a French woman named Claire Khacer. The couple separated after the birth of their child in 2013. Khacer, who is pregnant with the child of an Islamic State jihadist, was arrested after returning to France from Syria. She is being held on charges of conspiring to join a terrorist enterprise. In court, Wazir admitted to threatening the judges. He said was he was “overwhelmed” by the slow pace of the French bureaucracy. His French-born son still does not have a French passport.
March 13. Sonia Imloul, a 43-year-old activist and the former head of a deradicalization program, was found guilty by the Paris Criminal Court of embezzling and laundering public funds. She was accused of misusing the €60,000 ($65,000) which the French Interior Ministry gave her association, the House of Prevention and the Families (Maison de la prévention et de la familles), for the purpose of discouraging French Muslims from going to Iraq and Syria. She received a four-month suspended prison sentence and was ordered to pay €25,000. The conviction, which came after Julien Revial, a student employed by Imloul, wrote a book exposing her scam, has highlighted the failure of the French government’s deradicalization efforts.
March 15. Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux said that French security forces would begin dismantling the Grande-Synthe migrant camp on the northern coast near the port of Dunkirk “as soon as possible” after violent clashes at the site. The number of people at the camp has swelled to 1,500 since the destruction of the “Jungle” camp near Calais, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) away. The Grande-Synthe camp, populated mostly by Kurds, was built to house migrants and refugees who otherwise sleep in tents or makeshift shelters. They gather along the northern coast of France trying to break into trucks heading to Britain or trying to pay smugglers to help them get across the Channel.
March 16. An Ifop poll found that 71% of French people believe the security situation in France has deteriorated during the past five years; 93% believe the terrorist threat remains high; 60% said they do not feel safe anywhere in the country; and 69% believe there are not enough police and gendarmes. The poll also found that 88% support deporting foreigners convicted of serious crimes, and 81% support terminating social assistance to parents of repeat offenders.
March 17. A 30-year-old Muslim man yelling “Allahu Akhbar” slit the throats of his father and brother in the courtyard of their apartment building in Paris. Police said the dead men were found lying on the ground in pools of blood. Neighbors said the suspect had recently become radicalized and that his family was not happy about it. Police quickly dismissed terrorism as a motive for the crime; instead, they focused on “double intrafamilial homicide” in the context of “radicalizationThe suspect was arrested and transferred to a psychiatric ward..”
That’s just the first two weeks. Read the rest of the March docket at Gatestone Institute.