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France mulls personal mentors to turn jihadists

Ben McPartland · 9 Jul 2015, 16:37

Published: 09 Jul 2015 16:37 GMT+02:00

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The report, commissioned by French PM Manuel Valls in the days following the deadly attacks in Paris, recommends France follow the Danish example of providing personal mentors to those who have turned to jihadism.

In the Danish cities of Copenhagen and Aarhus, individual coaches are assigned to those who have been radicalised to help them try to regain a normal life.

But in France this kind of mentoring system is not well developed. The report notes that in the southern Alpes-Maritimes département, only two of 117 people identified as radicals are followed in this way.

The report also gave the latest figures on the number of French jihadists in the Middle East, which revealed that France is still the highest contributor.

As of July 2, 1,818 French-born or foreign residents of France were fighting in Iraq and Syria. That represents an increase of 42 per cent since the beginning of 2015 and 227 per cent since the beginning of 2014.

France needs to provide “individualised care” to the hundreds of French nationals who have turned to jihadism in recent months, the report recommends.

For those “hardened jihadists likely to commit attacks in France to avenge a godless society”, it says prison is the only answer.

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But then there are those who are “disillusioned or disappointed” by Isis and have committed no crimes. For them, prison is not the answer, says the report’s author Sébastien Pietrasanta.

He says they need to be put on a program of de-brainwashing and reintegration and for those who are “deeply traumatised by war, the solution should be psychotherapy”.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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