ICYMI: Hollande cancels plan to strip French citizenship in terrorism cases – The Boston Globe

Welcome pull-back, even if prompted more by politics than substance:

President François Hollande of France announced Wednesday that he was withdrawing a proposal to strip French citizenship from dual nationals convicted of terrorism, ending a months long debate that convulsed his governing Socialist Party, dominated political discussion after the November terrorist attacks and led to the resignation of the justice minister.

The idea, originally endorsed by right-wing parties and adopted by Hollande three days after the deadly attacks Nov. 13, drew furious opposition on the left in France, even though all sides agreed it was largely symbolic and would have little practical effect in combating terrorism.

But the proposal highlighted a growing split within the Socialist Party, between those who favored a tough law-and-order approach in the wake of the attacks that killed 130 people, and those worried that the government would be impinging on civil liberties.

Critics on the left complained that the plan would create two classes of citizens, saying it recalled the dark days of the World War II collaborationist government in France, which rendered hundreds of Jews stateless.

France is still under a state of emergency imposed after the attacks, and the police have conducted thousands of raids and put hundreds of suspects under house arrest.

Last week, after the Brussels bombings March 22, officials identified a possible terrorist attack in the “advanced stages” of planning, according to the French interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, and announced the arrest of a suspect with links to one of the November attackers.

On Wednesday, however, Hollande said he was pulling back from the citizenship proposal that had become the most intensely debated measure in a bill to overhaul the Constitution. The reversal is likely to reinforce among many voters what pollsters say is Hollande’s reputation for indecision.

Hollande blamed members of the right-wing opposition, which controls the Senate, for his decision.

“I take note that part of the opposition is against all constitutional revision,” he said. “I deplore, profoundly, this attitude, because we must do all we can, under the current serious conditions, to avoid divisions.”

Hollande also abandoned a proposal to create a constitutional provision for declaring a state of emergency, even though it had garnered broad support across the political spectrum.

Hollande’s government had slightly backtracked on the citizenship proposal in January, largely to mollify his critics on the left, in deciding that the bill would not contain any language explicitly referring to dual citizens.

The lower house, the National Assembly, where Socialists are in the majority, approved an amended bill that extended the measure to all French citizens, regardless of how many passports they held.

But the Senate insisted on sticking to the original idea and restricting the proposal to people with dual citizenship, with its leaders saying that the creation of stateless individuals was a “red line” they would not cross. With a presidential election scheduled next year, analysts interpreted the move as a way of dealing yet another blow to an already weakened Hollande.

Source: Hollande cancels plan to strip French citizenship in terrorism cases – The Boston Globe

Juan Cole: President Hollande: Anti-Muslimism Is as Bad as Anti-Semitism

Worth reading, and an apparent ‘course correction’ nuancing the ‘war’ language :

French President Francois Hollande addressed the Institute of the Arab World on Friday, in a bid to reassure French Muslims, who fear being the victims of a collective guilt campaign or reprisals after the attack of radicals on Charlie Hebdo.

Hollande said:

“It is the Muslims who are the first victims of fanaticism, fundamentalism and intolerance…

We must remember that . . . Islam is compatible with democracy, and that we must reject lumping everyone together or mixing them up with one another, and must have in France French of Muslim faith who have the same rights and the same duties as all citizens.

They must be protected.  Secularism helps in this regard since it respects all religions… Anti-Muslim actions, like Antisemitism, must be denounced and severely punished…

France was formed by movements of population and the flux of immigration.  It is constituted by the diversity of what is in France.  A number of my compatriots have attachments in the Arab world, coming from North Africa or the Near East.  They might be Jews, Muslims, Christians, they might be believers or no.  But they have a link to the Arab world and they have contributed, generation after generation, to the history of France.”

In contrast to the racist discourse of the National Front, which paints Muslims as alien and dangerous and non-Muslim French as monochrome, Hollande adopted an almost American diction of celebration of immigrant communities.

He made the argument that it isn’t importing religion into government (as many states in the Middle East unfortunately do) that guarantees minority rights but rather secular government, which tolerates all religions equally.  He is being a little idealistic about actual French secularism as it is enshrined in law and practice, but the general principle is correct.  Secular government can neutralize religious competition for the state of the sort we have seen in post-Bush Iraq, with all its disasters.

Hollande surely made waves when he put anti-Muslimism on exactly the same level as Antisemitism, and pledged to be as vigorous in combating the one as the other.  I haven’t heard any other Western leader go so far as to equate these two.

Otherwise, his acceptance of the Muslim French as full French citizens is extremely important in the hothouse atmosphere of European politics today, where many right-wing parties determinedly “other” the European Muslims.

Juan Cole: President Hollande: Anti-Muslimism Is as Bad as Anti-Semitism – Juan Cole – Truthdig.

French President Hollande tells Marois secularism eases social tensions

No surprise, as Quebec has always been influenced by French debates on accommodation and laicité, notwithstanding the very different histories and context of Quebec and France. France has had similar regulations to the proposed Charter since 2004 and there is ongoing debate over their effectiveness, not to mention the overall weakness of France’s integration of other communities, particularly Muslims.

French President Hollande tells Marois secularism eases social tensions – Need to know – Macleans.ca.

Hollande vante la laïcité proposée par Marois