PARIS — Rocked by a string of Islamist terror attacks capped by a deadly rampage in the heart of Paris in late 2015, French President Emmanuel Macron’s administration this week set out tough new measures to crack down on Islamic radicalization in schools, prisons and online.
But hopes here that the new policies will work aren’t high — it’s the third such plan French officials have floated just in the past four years.
Amid fears that French-born recruits to Islamic State may be making their way home after the terror group’s battlefield defeats, the state’s multiple plans are seen as symbolic of France’s struggles to deal with the largest Muslim population in Western Europe and to assimilate disaffected young Muslims into French society and culture. Since the first anti-radicalization plan was floated in 2014, militants have been blamed for the deaths of some 240 people in attacks in Paris, Nice and elsewhere.
This time, the authors insist, will be different.
“The new plan is much better because it addresses prevention,” said Nathalie Goulet, a senator with the Centrist Union center-right parliamentary group. “Previous measures mostly focused on criminal regulation, which didn’t solve the problem.”
Without providing details on costs, the government will invest in training teachers to detect the early signs of radicalization among students and debunk conspiracy theories and fake news spread through social media, said Prime Minister Edouard Philippe in Lille, a city in northern France, when he announced the new policies on February 23.