French parliament debate on refugee crisis darkened by shadow of the far-right

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The French parliament on Wednesday held a debate on “the accommodation of refugees in France and Europe”, centred on the government’s pledge to receive an extra 24,000 refugees over the coming two years, on top of the existing numbers of asylum seekers. But, writes Mediapart political correspondent Lénaïg Bredoux, it was a missed opportunity for political courage, in which Prime Minister Manuel Valls tempered France’s announced welcome of refugees with the need to tighten border security, overshadowed by fears that the crisis is further fuelling support for the far-right Front National party.  

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The refugee crisis in Europe has prompted enormous public debate, political tensions and also vast movements of solidarity towards the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing wars, oppression, insecurity and poverty. But the debate on the issue in the French parliament on Wednesday was a dull affair, clearly overshadowed by fears that the acceptance of refugees will further fuel support for the far-right Front National party.