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France

French press review 19 March 2016

media DR

The law depriving convicted terrorists of their French nationality is unlikely to reach the statute books, having been rejected yesterday by the Senate. All papers look at the questions posed by yesterday's arrest in Belgium of Paris terrorist suspect Salah Abdeslam. And there's the deal between Ankara and Europe on refugees.

Le Monde's main story says President François Hollande will have to give up the idea of a law depriving convicted terrorists of their French nationality.

The French Senate this week refused to pass the bill laboriously hammered out by MPs in the lower house. Since we're talking about a change to the constitution, the law can't see the light of day without the agreement of both MPs and senators.

Abdeslam arrested

Le Figaro's main headline reads "Abdeslam arrested: a victory against terrorism".

The 26-year-old captured yesterday in the Belgian capital Brussels is suspected of having played a key role in the November attacks here in Paris.

To read our coverage of the November Paris attacks and their aftermath click here

Le Figaro says Salah Abdeslam will be questioned by police once doctors have finished treating him for leg injuries he received during yesterday's arrest.

There are a great many questions to be posed:

  • Was he planning a new attack and, if so, where?
  • Was he hoping to escape to Syria?
  • Who are the people arrested with him yesterday?

Salah Abdeslam is likely to be extradited to France within a matter of days. Le Figaro warns that an eventual trial is likely to be difficult for the families of those killed and injured on 13 November but unlikely to lead to any clear truths or expression of contrition.

Open questions

Libération makes the point that Abdeslam's role in the November attacks remains unclear, even after four months of intensive investigation:

  • Was he one of the suicide attackers who managed to escape?
  • Was he the source of arms and equipment used by the attackers?
  • Did he drive one of the vehicles used the night 130 people were murdered in the French capital?

The left-leaning paper also draws attention to Abdeslam's profile, hardly typical of a committed Islamist militant. He ran a bar in the Belgian suburb of Molenbeek, an establishment eventually closed down by the authorities because of its use by drug dealers. His friends describe him as a lothario, anything but a practising Muslim.

There are plenty of rumours.

The only certainty right now, according to Libé, is that Abdeslam's credit card was used to pay to rent the cars which the attckers drove to the Stade de France and the Bataclan.

Europe's new Iron Curtain?

This morning's other big story is the deal signed yesterday under which Turkey will take back asylum seekers who manage to reach Europe. Le Monde speaks of European "embarrassment" at the agreement; Libération says it's a disgrace, the end of the right of asylum, the return of the Iron Curtain that divided the continent during the Cold War.

There are certainly difficulties with the plan, under which the European Union will pay Ankara to deal with the refugee problem.

To read our coverage of elections and war in Turkey last year click here

The payment is not just a question of six billion euros in cash. Le Figaro says Europe will have to loosen visa requirements for Turkish citizens and reopen negotiations with Ankara on Turkish membership of the European Union.

The Turkish authorities have recently expelled the correspondent of German magazine Der Spiegel; this week alone has seen dozens of arrests of lawyers, teachers and students associated with the cause of Kurdish rights. Europe is obliged to observe these events in complete silence, so as not to endanger the migrant deal.

As one speaker pointed out in the European parliament, "We're eating out of Mr Erdogan's hand. Europe risks dishonour for refusing the refugees. Now, it will have both the dishonour AND the refugees."

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