President Emmanuel Macron today called for a strengthening of border controls in the European Union’s Schengen zone following recent Islamist attacks in France and Austria.
Macron, speaking during a visit to France’s border with Spain, said that France alone will bolster its border controls by doubling police numbers to 4,800.
The tighter controls were needed to curb clandestine immigration, said Macron, adding that the criminal gangs illegally trafficking migrants into Europe were often linked to terror networks.
‘I am in favour of an in-depth re-foundation of Schengen to re-think its organisation and beef up our common border security,’ he added.
During a visit to the Franco-Spanish border today (pictured), President Emmanuel Macron called for an ‘in-depth re-foundation of Schengen’ to ‘beef up our common border security’
The president said he would present proposals to European Union partners at an EU summit in December.
France, home to Europe’s largest Muslim community, has been hit by a string of militant attacks in recent years.
On 29 October, a Tunisian man beheaded one woman and killed two other people in a church in Nice. Brahim Aouissaoui had arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa, which lies off North Africa, five weeks earlier.
After being transferred to the mainland, Aouissaoui travelled into France by train hours before launching his attack.
The jihadist who killed four people in Vienna on Monday travelled to neighbouring Slovakia in July in an attempt to buy ammunition, Austrian officials said.
Macron said the recent attacks were a warning to Europe that ‘the terrorist risk is everywhere’.
In a piece for the Financial Times, Macron today warned that some French districts have become ‘terrorist breeding grounds’ where ‘small girls wear full veil and are raised to hate our values’.
The head of state painted a picture of lawless suburbs in which abused infants are kept away from children of the opposite sex in an open letter defending his stance against Islamic extremists.
Security forces guard the area after a reported knife attack at Notre Dame church in Nice, France, October 29, 2020
Nice attacker Brahim Auissaoui is seen in a photograph taken at the Italian port city of Bari, where he disembarked from a coronavirus quarantine ship on October 8 – marking his arrival in mainland Europe
Kujtim Fejzulai, 20, posted the photograph on his Instagram account showing him holding the three weapons he would use in the attack and pledging his allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi. Austrian officials said Fejzulai travelled to Slovakia to try to buy ammunition
Macron also said there are ‘hundreds of radicalised individuals’ living in France who could strike with a knife at any moment.
In the open letter, Macron wrote: ‘Since 2015 it has become clear, and I said this even before I became president, that there are breeding grounds for terrorists in France.
‘Visit the districts where small girls aged three or four are wearing a full veil, separated from boys, and, from a very young age, separated from the rest of society, raised in hatred of France’s values.’
The proposals that Macron would put to EU nations would be based on principals he set out in a letter to citizens ahead of European elections last year, a junior minister said.
In that letter, Macron wrote that Europe needed a common border force and a single asylum office, strict border control obligations and for each member state to supply intelligence under the authority of a European Council for Internal Security.
On Thursday, the president said France would double the number of police manning its borders.
Muslims protest against the comments made by Macron regarding caricatures of Prophet Muhammad in Kolkata
Protesters burn an effigy depicting French President Emmanuel Macron during a demonstration in Kolkata, India, on November 4
Nearly 628,000 non-EU citizens were found to be illegally present in the bloc in 2019, up 10 per cent on the previous year, according to Eurostat data. More than 717,000 non-EU citizens were refused entry, the highest number on record.
France’s border police chief told Macron there had been a surge in attempted crossings of the Franco-Spanish frontier since it reopened in June following the lifting of COVID restrictions. Many came from Algeria and Morocco, agents said.
‘We need to bolster our fight against illegal immigration and traffickers who, increasingly often, have links to terrorism,’ the president said.
The Schengen zone consists of 22 of the 27 European Union member states, as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein. Britain and Ireland are not part of it.
France has a Muslim community of some five million – the largest in western Europe, and many with roots in former colonies such as Algeria.
Some have complained of increased racism and Islamophobia being aimed against them by politicians including Macron.
The President announced measures aimed at fighting ‘Islamist separatism’ including stricter government control of schools and other institutions serving Muslims on October 2.
During a speech, he said Islam was ‘in crisis’ globally, and he has also pledged that France will continue to publish Charlie Hebdo cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammed.
This has led to demonstrations across the Arab and Muslim world for the past two weeks, with thousands calling for a boycott of French products.
In Kolkata, India, thousands of protesters took to the streets yesterday to express their outrage, and burned a model depicting the French President.
Meanwhile in Bangladesh, Muslims rallied and called for a boycott of French goods whilst condemning Macron for his remarks defending the controversial cartoons.