While massive numbers of refugees continue to arrive in Europe, there is a perception among many in France that the country is something of a ‘promised land’ for asylum seekers, a dream destination about to be overwhelmed by the influx. But in reality, the self-proclaimed “land of human rights” figures way down the wish-list of those currently seeking to settle in Europe, even among francophone refugees. In this analysis of the crisis, which on Sunday saw Germany closing its southern borders, Mediapart's specialist writer on migratory issues, Carine Fouteau, examines why the majority of refugees are now spurning France.
The French Parliament this week formally adopted a new anti-terrorism law, part of which aims to stop terrorists using the internet to attract recruits and plot attacks. It will allow the authorities to block websites that “condone terrorism” and will create a new offence of “individual terrorist enterprise”. One key objective is to stop the “preparation” of attacks via the web. The government, which has rushed these measures through, says they are needed to combat the growing use of the internet and social media by terror groups and in particular to tackle the threat of so-called “lone wolf” terrorists operating in France and elsewhere. But civil liberties groups, judges and the state body that oversees the impact of digital technology have condemned the law as an attack on freedom, ineffective and unworkable. Jérôme Hourdeaux details the new measures.
The French government last week announced major cuts in defence spending which include the axing next year of 7,500 jobs in its armed forces, the subsequent closure of several military bases, the scrapping of an artillery regiment and the decommissioning of several warships. "The sovereignty of our country depends as much on tackling our public accounts as on our defence," said defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian as he detailed the cull on October 15th. But the minister is also under intense pressure over the massive, budget-busting spending of ongoing French military operations abroad, principally in West and Central Africa, and now also against Islamic State militants in Iraq. Lénaïg Bredoux reports on the opaque funding of the campaigns, including the indirect contribution of the French education ministry, and Le Drian’s controversial and urgent plans to set up public-private partnerships to finance French defence procurement through leasing deals.