France extends post-Paris attacks state of emergency to cover Euro 2016

  • AFP, Paris
  • Updated: May 19, 2016 18:54 IST
Spectators gather on the pitch of the Stade de France stadium following the friendly football match between France and Germany in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on November 13, 2015, after a series of gun attacks occurred across Paris as well as explosions outside the national stadium where France was hosting Germany. (AFP)

France’s parliament confirmed on Thursday a two-month extension of the state of emergency that has been in place since November’s jihadist attacks to cover the Euro 2016 football tournament and Tour de France.

Already approved by a large majority in the upper house Senate last week, the lower house National Assembly confirmed the measure on Thursday by 46 votes to 20.

“The terrorist threat remains at a high level and France, like the EU, is a target,” said Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve ahead of the vote.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls had earlier said there was no question of cancelling the Euro 2016 football tournament, which is expected to draw two million fans to the country between June 10 and July 10.

Millions of spectators are also expected for the Tour de France cycling race, which is set for July 2-24 and this year covers a route of 3,519 kilometres (2,247 miles).

“Giving up on sporting events and cultural events is precisely to give in to the terrorist threat,” he told RTL radio, vowing that everything had been done to limit the chance of attacks.

The state of emergency was imposed following the November 13 attacks that left 130 people dead in the French capital, and was already extended by three months in February until May 26.

It allows police to hold people under house arrest whose behaviour is considered “a threat to security and public order”.

But under the latest extension, police will no longer have the power to raid homes without a court order, as they have since November.

Since the measures were imposed in November, some 3,500 searches have been carried out, at least 56 suspects taken into custody and 69 people placed under house arrest, the government said in mid-April.

The French Human Rights League (LDH) has criticised the extension, saying the government had become “hooked on the state of emergency”.

“It reflects... a desire to condition us to living under this regime, hoping that the women and men of this country will forget that the defence of our freedoms is another essential way of fighting terrorism,” the LDH said in a statement last month.

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