French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Monday unveiled a program to establish regional centers across the country where locals will be “de-radicalized.” The centers will aim to prevent those identified as vulnerable to radical thinking from falling into the hands of the Muslim extremists.
Valls said the judicial authorities will be sending about half, if not more, of the clients for the new de-radicalization centers, primarily individuals “who cannot be put in prison.”
The Prime Minister said the “phenomenon of radicalization had widely penetrated into society” and that “it has deeply damaged the Republican pact.”
According to The Local, some 1,600 young French are already enrolled in state-run de-radicalization programs, which the new budget will increase 3,600 individuals over the next two years. In early February, Le Figaro published a leaked government report showing there were 8,250 committed Muslim radicals living in France — a number which had doubled since the previous year. Around 70% of the suspected Islamist radicals are male and 80% of the cases are considered “serious.” According to Le Figaro, there has been a significant rise in the number of women and teenagers who became radicalized.
In January, France announced the establishment of “de-radicalization” prison wings, where prisoners who have been convicted of terrorism are kept in isolated cells, unable to communicate with and influence fellow inmates.
The new rehab program has encountered the familiar NIMBY problem, as the opening of the first de-radicalization center, in Beaumont-en-Véron in central France, has provoke angry opposition from local residents who feared they could become the next terror targets.
“Yesterday it was Paris, tomorrow perhaps it could be us. Obviously we are scared,” one local resident told reporters.
The government established a “green number” in 2014, which French citizens can call to alert the authorities about their neighbors who have become radicalized. The green number has been a success and the Prime Minister plans to invest in more Jihadist threat hotlines.