French PM ‘open’ to interim ban on foreign funding of mosques
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French PM ‘open’ to interim ban on foreign funding of mosques

Under fire for perceived security breakdowns amid terror wave, Valls says it was ‘failure’ that priest killer was released pending trial

From left: Mayor of Nice Philippe Pradal; prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes department Adolphe Colrat; French Prime Minister Manuel Valls; and president of the Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur region Christian Estrosi observe a minute of silence on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice on July 18, 2016, in tribute to victims of the deadly Nice attack on Bastille Day. (AFP/Valery Hache)
From left: Mayor of Nice Philippe Pradal; prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes department Adolphe Colrat; French Prime Minister Manuel Valls; and president of the Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur region Christian Estrosi observe a minute of silence on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice on July 18, 2016, in tribute to victims of the deadly Nice attack on Bastille Day. (AFP/Valery Hache)

PARIS — France’s prime minister said Friday he was “open” to a temporary ban on the foreign financing of mosques, after a spate of attacks in the country claimed by jihadists.

Manuel Valls also admitted in an interview with the Le Monde daily it was a “failure” that one of the jihadists who attacked a church and killed a priest earlier this week had been released with an electronic tag pending trial.

Valls and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve have come under fire for perceived security failings that have failed to prevent three major terror attacks in France in 18 months.

The fact that one of the church attackers, 19-year-old Adel Kermiche, was awaiting trial on terror charges and had been fitted with an electronic tag means judges needed to take a “different, case-by-case, approach,” Valls said.

Imam of the Drancy Mosque, Hassene Chalghoumi, attends a ceremony at the Grande Synagogue de la Victoire in Paris on November 15, 2015 for the victims of a series of deadly attacks in the French capital two days earlier. (AFP PHOTO/LOIC VENANCE)
Imam of the Drancy Mosque, Hassene Chalghoumi, attends a ceremony at the Grande Synagogue de la Victoire in Paris on November 15, 2015, for the victims of a series of deadly attacks in the French capital two days earlier. (AFP/Loic Venance)

However, the prime minister stressed that the judges in this individual case should not be held responsible for this “act of terrorism.”

And as the jihadist killing of a priest at the altar of his church sparked fears of religious tensions in secular France, Valls said the country needed to “invent a new relationship” with Islam.

Normandy church attackers pledge allegiance to Islamic State (Screen capture: Youtube)
Normandy church attackers pledge allegiance to Islamic State (Screen capture: Youtube)

The prime minister said Monday that France needed to rethink its security culture, amid an escalating scandal over the government’s handling of police deployment in Nice on the night of the deadly Bastille Day attack.

Speaking on BFM television, Valls said “we need a deep change in our security culture” after the Nice attack, which killed 84. He didn’t elaborate.

Soldiers pass by the makeshift memorial in tribute to the victims of the deadly Bastille Day attack at the Promenade des Anglais, Nice, July 19, 2016. (AFP/Valery HACHE)
Soldiers pass by the makeshift memorial in tribute to the victims of the deadly Bastille Day attack at the Promenade des Anglais, Nice, July 19, 2016. (AFP/Valery Hache)

Valls also again defended Cazeneuve, who is facing accusations that his office pressured a local official to cover up a lack of national police presence on the night of July 14. Cazeneuve has denied wrongdoing and is suing for defamation.

Valls said the accusations are an effort by the conservative opposition to “destabilize the government.”

France’s president has ordered an internal police probe into security in Nice that night.

84-year-old French priest Jacques Hamel was killed in an apparent Islamic State attack on his church in the town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, in Normandy on July 26, 2016 (Photo from Twitter)
84-year-old French priest Jacques Hamel was killed in an apparent Islamic State attack on his church in the town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, in Normandy on July 26, 2016 (Photo from Twitter)
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