France to crackdown on hate websites


22 Mar 2012

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Photo from Wikimedia Commons file

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The French government will act to punish anyone who “goes online to express sympathy for terrorists”, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said, after a standoff in Toulouse ended in the death of Mohamed Merah, a gunman suspected of having killed seven people.

Sarkozy said France will make it a crime to consult websites that advocate terrorism or hate crimes and would toughen a crackdown on people who went abroad for ideological indoctrination, Reuters reported.

"From now on, any person who habitually consults websites that advocate terrorism or that call for hatred and violence will be criminally punished," Sarkozy said in a televised address following the death of Merah (23).

"France will not tolerate forced recruitment or ideological indoctrination on its soil," Sarkozy said.

The president added that authorities are investigating whether Merah allegedly acted alone in al Qaeda-inspired shootings of three Jewish children and four adults in southwest France. He had allegedly carried out his killings in revenge for French military involvement abroad, Interior Minister Claude Gueant said.

Merah, who had been holed up for more than 30 hours in an apartment during a standoff with elite police commandos, died this morning under a hail gunfire when he jumped from a window.