Thousands March in Paris to Protest State of Emergency

Thousands of people marched in the Paris rain on Saturday to denounce plans to renew France's state of emergency and revoke the French citizenship of dual nationals convicted of terrorism.

Human rights groups, politicians and unions joined the march in the French capital, and in other demonstrations around France. The protests came just days before the Cabinet plans to review a measure on Wednesday to prolong the state of emergency, first imposed after the Nov. 13 Paris attacks that killed 130 people.

The state of emergency gives more power to police and administrative authorities, allowing for searches without warrants, house arrests and other measures.

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"My France of liberties, where are you?" read one banner.

The parliament is expected to approve the prolongation of the exceptional measures in voting later this month. The current state of emergency expires Feb. 26.

Jean-Baptiste Eyrault, of the Right to Housing movement, said: "Democracy is moving backwards ... at the expense of judges and the rule of law, freedom to demonstrate and (freedom) of expression."

Last week, a French high court upheld the measure, saying the danger "has not disappeared."

Opponents of another plan to revoke citizenship for dual nationals convicted of terrorism claim the move would feed racism, creating a two-tier system of citizens. Many dual nationals are Muslims, and some feel they are blamed for attacks by Islamist extremists.

Green party lawmaker Noel Mamere, taking part in the march, said the state of emergency lays the foundations for "a society under surveillance."

Christiane Taubira resigned suddenly last week as France's justice minister over her opposition to the plan, and as it became evident her views were on a collision course with those of President Francois Hollande. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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