PARIS AP France’s government is deploying nearly 100,000 police and soldiers for the holiday season as fears of extremist attacks remain high.
The additional security will focus on Christmas markets, shopping centres, religious buildings, public transport and tourist sites.Citing the context of a still elevated terrorist threat, the Interior Ministry said in a statement that 97,000 security force personnel are mobilized for protection Sunday and Monday.In addition to the Christmas security, the ministry said extra policing was ordered around religious sites during Hanukkah earlier this month, and for Orthodox Christmas in January,to allow the celebration of these festivities in good conditions.
A new anti-terrorism law championed by President Emmanuel Macron’s government enshrines extra police powers as a result of multiple Islamic extremist attacks that killed more than 200 people in 2015-2016.
The French government has confirmed that some 91,000 police, military police, and soldiers will be on duty over the Christmas weekend due to the heightened threat from terrorism.
Tens of thousands of armed police, gendarmes military police and soldiers will be deployed over the Christmas weekend as the government takes steps to ensure the security arrangements match the heightened threat for terrorism.
For the end of year festivities and notably the Christmas weekend there will be 91,000 members of the security forces deployed included members of the national police, national gendarmes and soldiers,said Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux on Friday.The White House firmly denied a New York Times report on Saturday claiming that President Trump said that Haitian immigrants all have AIDS, among other inflammatory comments.The Times reported that Trump lashed out at top aides and Cabinet officials in a June meeting in which he bemoaned the influx of immigrants despite his travel ban on Muslim majority countries, which he said damaged the credibility of his vow to secure the border.“General Kelly, General Mc Master, Secretary Tillerson,Secretary Nielsen and all other senior staff actually in the meeting deny these outrageous claims and it’s both sad and telling The New York Times would print the lies of their anonymous sources anyway White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement to the newspaper.
Six officials who attended or had knowledge of the meeting told the Times that Trump read from a list of the latest statistics on immigration since taking office in January.
Our mission is to protect, dissuade and reassure he said in clipped tones, as his men from the 3rd Marine Infantry Regiment, normally based in Brittany, snaked past pavement cafes tour groups and couples kissing, scanning all around for bombs or terrorists.
A young man leapt forward to ask for a selfie with the bizarre yet now commonplace sight of combat troops on the streets of Paris. Sorry rules don’t allow it,said a senior officer who had spent most of his career serving in difficult war zones he was not allowed to name.
Children stared open-mouthed at the guns. Locals smiled and the occasional tourist came forward to ask for directions to famous landmarks.I’m not from Paris but I’m slowly getting to know the place and I always try to help,said a heavily armed junior soldier who grew up in rural Normandy.After last year’s terrorist attacks on Paris, the president, Francois Hollande,declared that France was at war and swiftly saturated the streets of main cities with soldiers standing guard in full military fatigues to make people feel more secure. The now permanent presence of thousands of soldiers in khaki across the capital and major cities has transformed the image and mood of France.Operation Sentinelle, in which combat troops patrol streets and protect key sites from synagogues to art galleries, nursery schools to mosques and Métro stations is the army’s first wide scale peacetime military operation on mainland France.
Sentinelle was launched after the massacre at Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher supermarket Hebdo in Paris in January 2015. But after November’s attacks that killed 130 people, Hollande increased the presence to 10,000 troops across the nation, with about 6,500 of them in the Paris area.
But while 79% of French people approve of Sentinelle in a country with a very positive view of its army, political opposition on the right and left has begun to question not the soldiers themselves but the government’s use of the military. Political commentators and ex military figures have started to query whether deploying soldiers in what one rightwing senator called a mere security guard role is an efficient use of a highly trained and now highly stretched army.
The constant presence of camouflage uniforms everywhere from quiet neighbourhood streets to Metro carriages, patrolling past schools at home time or milling through markets, has transformed the city scape and the relationship of the French to their soldiers. People now bring hot drinks and food offerings to men in military fatigues at the end of their street. The elite troops of the foreign legion are invited into a barmitzvah in a street of synagogues that they normally guard. There are now military medals for serving on the streets of French towns and many more young people applying to join the army.It’s quite hard to know what to tell children already traumatised and confused by the terrorist attacks,said the concierge at one central Paris building in a neighbourhood where soldiers are regularly posted.My five year old daughter would shush me and try to hide whenever she saw a soldier. I asked her why.They’re the killers she said. I told her they weren’t at all, but she just replied But they’ve got guns.Children do come up and talk to us a lot,said Staff Sgt Stephane on patrol.They ask us why we’re here, I say it’s to protect and reassure you. Then parents explain.We try not to hold our guns too high or too low.
The French army, along with the British, is one of the biggest forces in Europe it is deployed across the world, in operations ranging from Mali and the Sahel to Iraq, championed by Hollande, the Socialist who has been labelled “war chief” for his decision to intervene abroad. And yet Senitnelle is so vast that it is currently the biggest military operation in volume of any French operation anywhere in the world. Of all the French soldiers currently on military operations, half of them are deployed on streets at home.
In the senate last month, several opposition voices warned the political decision to put soldiers on the street raised problems. First there had been complaints that soldiers’ digs, particularly in Paris, had been at best rudimentary, at worst plagued with leaks, lack of heating and extreme hardship conditions seen as commonplace in warzones abroad but at home seen as unacceptable.The army has since acted to improve the accommodation, the problem being in part attributed to the lack of barracks space for soldiers who had not previously needed to be stationed in the capital. The former prime minister Jean Pierre Raffarin warned that soldiers’ elite training and skills were not being fully used and others said they were losing valuable training time.Most of the soldiers in Paris are deployed from across France and are spending increasing amounts of time away from home and family.Thank goodness it’s the internet age. Imagine if we had to write letters home,said one father of three on patrol.