Respondents of two polls, published on Friday, have massively backed a crackdown on radical Islamists, including a ban on ultra-conservative Islam, detention for suspects of harboring extremists and the expulsion of foreign radicals. Over half of them criticized Emmanuel Macron for not doing enough about the issue.
87 percent of participants in an Odoxa survey want those suspected of religious radicalization to be detained for their activities, with a comparable number endorsing a ban on Salafist Islam, an ultra-conservative branch of the religion which has been adopted by Daesh* as its ideology. The belief system rejects modern Western values and condemns those they consider to be “disbelievers.”
A poll by Elabe has brought to light that a majority thinks what Macron’s doing is not enough.
However, expectations from any of the opposition parties aren’t higher. Thirty-one percent think that the right-wing Front National party could do a better job, while 39 percent think that they would not be any different. 80 percent of respondents stated that radicalized foreigners should be deported.
Countering Jihadists Returning Home
The research came hot on the heels of the deadly terror attack in the southern town of Trebes on March 23, when a 26-year-old Moroccan national with French citizenship, Redouane Lakdim, took several people hostage at a supermarket. He murdered four people, including a police officer who swapped himself for a hostage, before being killed by police.
This has fueled the debate over counter-terrorism and how to deal with the migrant influx. Apart from refugees fleeing conflicts and poor humanitarian situations in the Middle East and Africa, French authorities expect more than 250 former Daesh* fighters, who left Europe to join the terrorist group in Syria and Iraq, to return. Security services have been stumped as to how to deal with the returning jihadists, while the security intelligence company The Soufan Group concluded in its December report that returnees are unlikely to ever lead a normal life, while the influence of returning Daesh* supporters is set to grow over time.
An ‘Islam of France’
The traditionally Catholic France has the largest Muslim community in Europe, counting more than 5 million people. Several French presidents have attempted to integrate members of France’s Islamic community into its officially secular society, to promote French values in their community and to fight extremism and radicalization. Efforts to create a French version of Islam have so far proven unsuccessful.
Emmanuel Macron, elected president in 2017, has committed himself to the task and revealed his intentions to create an “Islam of France” in the interview with French newspaper Journal du Dimanche a month ago. He plans to “set down markers on the entire way in which Islam is organized in France.” The reform has not yet fully taken shape, but Macron said that he plans to set out all the key points in the first six months of 2018.
The anti-migrant agenda was the key pillar for his main rival in the 2017 elections, Marine Le pen, who came second. The leader of the right-wing National Front has demanded the deportation of all foreigners included in extremism watch lists compiled by French intelligence.
*Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist group banned in Russia