France could reduce visas to North African countries due to 'radicalisation'
"These countries must be told that they must take back people who are identified as their nationals," Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune said on the French radio station Europe 1.
"We have levers to do this, for example, visas (…) by targeting political leaders, economic leaders. It is one of the levers that the President of the Republic, that the Minister of the Interior is considering."
The comments come on the back of recent tensions between the French government and the country's Muslim population who feel victimised after recent rhetoric on Islam by President Emmanuel Macron and a crackdown on Muslim NGOs and organisations deemed "Islamist" by the authorities.
Beaune stressed that this plan would also have to rely on European partnerships, especially states in the Schengen zone.
"We respect our partners, with our European partners we must put pressure. Here too, we have to get out of naivety, we have to go through European action because we are stronger in these pressures," Beaune said.
This declaration comes after a visit by France's Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin to the North African countries whereby he presented a list of 231 individuals France wants to expel due to suspicions of "radicalisation", according to French outlet Le Parisien.
This demand by the French government was triggered by the recent attack in Nice which is believed to have been carried out by a recently-arrived Tunisian migrant.
"We know the enemy, it has not only been identified, but has a name, it's radical Islamism," French Prime Minister Jean Castex told a memorial service in Nice after the attack.
He recalled that the city had already paid a "heavy toll" when 86 people were killed in a 2016 truck ramming attack against a crowd on France's 14 July national day.
Radical Islamism is "a political ideology which distorts the Muslim religion by twisting its scriptures... Every time it's France that's in the sights, is the target of terrorism", Castex said.
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