The French Senate has approved an anti-terror law that makes many of the current emergency measures permanent. The Senate passed the law by 229 votes to 106, with the largest opposition party, the center-right Les Republicans, voting in favor, while socialist and communist senators opposed it. It will now go to the lower house, the National Assembly, in October, where President Emmanuel Macron's centrist La Republique en Marche (The Republic on the Move) has a majority.
The draft law extends into ordinary law current emergency powers allowing the authority to close places of worship where extremist ideas are propagated, restrict the movements of people suspected of terrorist links, and search properties. Compared to the current emergency powers, the movement restrictions and search powers can only be used in terrorism cases and are subject to judicial authorization or appeal.
Macron, a 39-year-old elected in May, has promised that the state of emergency will expire in November. He aims to lift the rule of emergency that has lasted for the last two years, but only to retain his authority.
Interior Minister Gerard Collomb defended the bill, saying it was necessary to combat the "ever present" terror threat.
"We want to come out from the state of emergency, but we can't do so without counter-terrorism controls in place."
French lawmakers voted for the sixth time on June 6 to extend the country's state of emergency until November. As the country has been under terror threat since 2015, a state of emergency was first announced last November in response to coordinated Paris attacks that left 130 people dead. Another 17 people were killed in January 2015 in attacks that began with the shooting of journalists working for Charlie Hebdo, a satirical weekly that had published cartoons mocking Islam.
After the deadly attack in the Riviera city of Nice in July plunged France into a new period of grief and fear, France had extended the country's state of emergency for six months until the end of January due to security concerns across the country. A Tunisian drove his truck into Bastille Day revelers in Nice, killing 84 people, and two Daesh militants cut the throat of an elderly priest. With the extension of emergency rule, the country will have been in a state of emergency for an unprecedented 20 months.
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