France will strengthen control of the borders within the visa-free Schengen area amid increased terrorist threat, French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday.
"We have decided to significantly increase our border control within the Schengen area. We have decided to double the forces we had there as part of the control, from 2,400 to 4,800 police personnel, gendarmes, military," the president said.
Macron added that these controls will target illegal immigrants. He stressed that illegal migrant-trafficking networks often have links to terrorist groups.
The French President said that Paris will make proposals to fellow EU member states concerning a reform of the Schengen zone.
According to Macron, the threat presented by Islamist terrorism is a long-term threat. The President went on to say that the latest attack in Austria has shown that terrorism danger can come from everywhere, including from agents sent from other countries.
Macron Defends His Stance on Secularism
The French President also said on Thursday that he has a responsibility to defend the French population from the moment he took office, as the French leader fends off condemnation from Muslim world over his stance towards secularism and freedom of expression amid growing terrorist threat following recent attacks by motivated violent extremists.
Ma responsabilité est de protéger les Français. J’y consacre toute mon énergie depuis le 1er jour. La mobilisation de l’ensemble des acteurs de l'État est totale.— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) November 5, 2020
Earlier in the day, the Franceinfo broadcaster reported that France has launched 187 investigations into suspected violent extremism since the brutal killing of history teacher Samuel Paty in Paris in the middle of October. Paty was beheaded in a Paris suburb by an 18-year-old Chechen teenager after he had used cartoons depicting Islamic prophet Mohammad during a freedom of speech lesson. The teacher's murder was followed by another terrorist attack in a catholic church in Nice on 29 October, where three people were stabbed by a 21-year-old radical of Tunisian origin.