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.
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.
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.
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.