Thousands rally in Paris to oppose extension of emergency

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PARIS: Thousands of people marched through Paris on Saturday to decry the proposed extension of a state of emergency imposed after the November Paris attacks.

Braving driving rain and shouting slogans including “state of emergency — police state” the marchers protested loudly against a measure they see as curbing human rights.

Police put participation at 5,000 while organisers said some 20,000 people took part.

Several other cities including Toulouse in the south held smaller-scale marches organised by unions, human rights organisations and other pressure groups.

A further gripe is a government plan to strip convicted French-born terrorists of their citizenship if they have a second nationality.

That proposal has already triggered the resignation of Justice Minister Christiane Taubira who stood down in protest over the plan this week after the reforms were presented to parliament.

Parliament is due in the coming days to debate the state of emergency as President Francois Hollande seeks parliamentary appro­val to extend the current three-month measure, which expires on Feb 26.

The Senate is to vote on the proposal on Feb 9, followed by a vote in the National Assembly on Feb 16.

Concern has been growing about the state of emergency, introduced after coordinated gun and bomb attacks left 130 dead in Paris on Nov 13.

France’s highest administrative court on Wednesday refused to lift the state of emergency.

The Council of State ruled that the “imminent danger justifying the state of emergency has not disappeared, given the ongoing terrorist threat and the risk of attacks. “But UN human rights experts last week said the measures placed what they saw as “excessive and disproportionate” restrictions on key rights.