france is historically seen as standard bearer of western secular liberalism and has been singled out by terrorists as a key target in recent years. As a result, the French state has been forced to update legislation in order to combat an evolving threat both from outside groups and from its own citizens.
Over the past five years france has moved to beef up its anti-terror laws in response to a series of attacks by Islamic radicals, most notably the November 2015 Bataclan theatre massacre in Paris that killed 90 concert-goers and a truck attack in Nice on Bastille Day 2016 that left 86 people dead.
France’s current counter-terrorism law, “Strengthening Internal Security and the Fight Against Terrorism” (SILT), came into force in November 2017.
That bill gave greater powers to prefects, the interior minister’s local representatives across France. In particular it gives them the power to designate public spaces as special security zones, allowing them to put limits on who can enter and leave them. It also grants powers to limit the movement of people who are considered a national security threat and to close places of worship as they see fit.
The bill also gave – for the first time – security services the power to investigate civil servants, including school teachers, if they are in a position of authority and are believed to pose a risk of radicalisation.
The SILT law also allows security services to carry out identity checks in border areas…