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France’s deradicalization centers seen as a ‘total fiasco’

Published: February 25, 2017
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Source: Washington Post

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The French government’s attempt — including the controversial opening of a deradicalization center in the middle of the countryside — was a “total fiasco,” in the words of Philippe Bas, a senator from the center-right Republicans party.

Among the most damning elements in the report was a firm condemnation of the planned network of 12 deradicalization centers, perhaps the most widely publicized — and criticized — element of the government’s push to combat homegrown extremism.

A wave of terrorist violence — perpetrated mostly by French or European Union passport holders — has claimed the lives of 230 people in France since January 2015, and the Socialist administration of François Hollande has struggled to improvise a solution to the problem.

The deradicalization centers — officially called Centers for Prevention, Integration and Citizenship — were meant to impose rigorous routines on those they housed, as well as to subject them to intense courses in French history and philosophy. As Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said while serving as interior minister last fall at the opening of the first center: “We can only fight against terrorism by respecting the principles of the Republic.”

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