France appoints special Prefect to protect religious sites

GMT 23:40 2015 Tuesday ,13 January

Arab Today, arab today France appoints special Prefect to protect religious sites

Religious sites in Paris
Paris - KUNA

France has appointed a special Prefect to coordinate protection of religious and linked cultural sites around the country, a reflection of concern about growing tensions and a large number of attacks and incidents around Muslim sites in the country and fears of an escalation with other religious communities, official sources said.
There have been close to 60 incidents involving Muslims sites, mosques, institutions and even restaurants in the past six days, a spin-off of the terror attacks that left 17 dead between Wednesday and Friday of last week.
The three terrorists, who had criminal records for ordinary and terror-related crimes, were killed last Friday in separate police assaults on their hideouts. All three claimed to be acting on orders from Islamist extremist groups in Yemen or Syria and Iraq but no firm link has yet been established with groups in those regions.
Although one of the terrorists, Said Kouachi, is believed to have spent time in Yemen, his brother, Sharif, and the third man, Amedy Coulibaly, are not known to have travelled to the Middle East
Muslim organisations here have unanimously and firmly condemned the terrorist attacks against the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine on Wednesday, carried out by the Koubachi broters, and the hostage-taking and killing of four people at a Jewish supermarket Friday by Coulibaly.
And Muslims massively turned to in solidarity at massive marches bringing over 3.3 million on to the streets Sunday throughout France to protest against terrorism and support freedom of speech.
The Interior Ministry said here on Tuesday that Patrice Latron, a Prefect, would be put in charge of coordinating protection for all religious sites or related institutions, including Mosques, Synagogues, religious schools, cultural buildings and any other religiously-symbolic sites.
The Ministry said it was in permanent contact with national representatives of religions here concerning security issues.
"The Interior Ministry recalls the total determination of the Government to assure freedom of religion in the Republic and to guarantee the security of all French people," the statement said.
Separately, Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced to parliament a series of new measures to fight terrorism, including tighter internet controls and controls on suspects thought to have links to extremist circles.
France is deploying close to 100,00 police, Gendarmes and troops to combat the terrorist threat that is believed to be still very real. Ten thousand army troops are among those being deployed for anti-terrorist duties.

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