French politicians call for those on national security watch list to be expelled

French politicians call for those on national security watch list to be expelled
In the aftermath of the Paris knife attack, French politicians are urging the authorities to kick those on the national security threat list, known as Fiche S, out of the country - even if they are there legally.

On Saturday evening, a 20-year-old man stabbed passers-by in the heart of Paris, killing one and injuring four more. The assailant, who was killed by police, was later identified by the media as a French national of Chechen origin named Khamzat Azimov.

He received French citizenship in 2010 and in 2016 he was reportedly put on the on the notorious Fiche S - a watch list used in France to flag individuals considered to pose a threat to national security.

The list doesn’t necessarily contain potential terrorists, it can include anyone who authorities believe represent a serious threat to the Republic, including violent protesters or hooligans. Those on the list may be put under surveillance, but not under arrest. 

Yet the name of the list has repeatedly resurfaced in the French media in connection with terrorism. Fiche S once included Amedy Coulibaly, an Islamist behind Île-de-France attacks in 2015, Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, responsible for 2015 Charlie Hebdo massacre and – most recently – Redouane Lakdim who was behind the Trebes attacks in March 2018.

On Sunday, the president of the Republican party Laurent Wauquiez released a statement, calling on President Emmanuel Macron to implement necessary measures to battle terrorism. One of the suggestions was “to expel systematically those on Fiche S who don’t have French nationality.”

Mayor of the southern French town of Béziers Robert Ménard, known for his controversial statements, also called for a review of the watch list. “The problem is that we have too [many people on] the Fiche S list in France. Our intelligence services are overwhelmed by the numbers. The question is: Do we have to expel them automatically? I think so, if they are foreign citizens,” he wrote.

Macron’s presidential rival, Marine Le Pen from the anti-immigration and Euroskeptic National Front party also hit out at Elysee Palace over its poor handling of potential threats. “What is the purpose of this Fiche S if it is not used to stop these time bombs from causing damage on French soil?” she wrote.

Another of Macron’s former presidential rivals, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, also released a statement calling for those on Fiche S to be expelled from France. “And we will still listen to the same hollow speeches of inaction and powerlessness!” he lamented on Twitter, referring to French authorities’ statements on the Paris knife attack.

READ MORE: Russian embassy in Paris requests info from France on knife attacker's nationality

“Recently naturalized" and "put on Fiche S": we will have to know in what order things were done...,” noted Florian Philippot who once served as vice president of Le Pen’s National Front party before launching his own.

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