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Poll: French massively against jihadists returning

A study conducted for both a mainstream daily newspaper and broadcaster in France, shows that 82 percent of French citizens approve of French jihadists being put on trial in Iraq, and not in France.

Published: March 1, 2019, 9:43 am

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    The conclusion is clear: According to an Odoxa-Dentsu Consulting study conducted for Le Figaro and FranceInfo, some 82 percent of French people support the the notion of French jihadists being put on trial in Iraq and are therefore against their return to the country.

    Some 89 percent of respondents are afraid of a possible return of these jihadists to France and 53 percent of them say they feel “very worried” about their possible return. Cited by Le Figaro, the authors of the survey explain that “faced with perceived risks, the great principles of law, freedom and even the question of the death penalty do not weigh heavily in the balance for our fellow citizens”.

    Surprisingly, both the supporters of La République en marche (LREM) – President Macron’s party – and those of the National Rally of Marine Le Pen, agree on keeping French jihadists in Iraq.

    On both sides, 89 percent think that the government is right having these individuals stand trial in Iraq instead. That is only slightly less than for the supporters of the Republicans, where some 90 percent support the decision made by Emmanuel Macron.

    His choice was also approved by the leftists. Sympathizers of the Socialist Party agreed too, with 72 percent and those of France Insubordinate with 61 percent of respondents saying they do not want them back.

    Asked about a possible return of children of jihadists  to France, some 67 percent of respondents believe that Iraq and Syria should rather take care of them and only 33 percent said they wanted to see that the maximum was done so that they could return to the country. Faced with this result, the study explained that “some are orphaned, others traumatized by scenes of indescribable violence and shelling” and that “their captured parents will likely be sentenced to long prison terms or receive the death penalty”.

    This study for Le Figaro was coincides with several relatives of children of jihadists having lodged a complaint against France for “inaction” before the UN. The lawyers are demanding that everything be done to bring these children back onto French territory. But this request is obviously in total opposition to the will expressed by the French people.

    Thirteen French jihadist accused of being fighters for the Islamic State were handed over by the Arab-Kurdish forces of Syria to the Iraqi authorities, it was reported on Monday. They may face the death penalty.

    According to broadcaster LCI, they are “accused of committing crimes and will be judged according to Iraqi law, and it is in this context that we act,” the Iraqi President Barham Salih, said on Monday, February 25, during a conference of joint press with Emmanuel Macron.

    The foreign jihadists detained in Syria by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) number in the hundreds. They were captured by the Arab-Kurdish alliance during the offensive against the Islamic State in a slum in Baghouz.

    Neither the Iraqi nor the French president specified the identity of the jihadists being handed over to Iraq. “The SDS has countless prisoners and exchanges with them are part of bilateral relations,” said Macron.

    He added: “In this context, the decisions do not have to be commented. For those French which are being transferred, it is up to the Iraqis to decide. These people have the right to have consular protection.”

    Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet confirmed that the government would not allow the use of the death penalty. She said France would “ensure the minimum of respect for the right to a fair trial”.

    The repatriation of jihadists from Syria has been a real strategic puzzle for several EU countries. In Germany, Linda Wenzel was also put on trial by Iraqi authorities for and was sentenced to six years in prison for various charges including entering the country illegally to join the terror group.

    Earlier this month, authorities revealed that France estimated that there could be as many as 300 men, 300 women, and 500 children waiting to be repatriated.

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