UPDATED Feb. 16, 2:12 p.m. EST – The Assemblée Nationale, or the lower house of French parliament voted on a controversial plan to approve an extension of the state of emergency order until May 26, French newspaper Le Monde reported Tuesday. Results of the vote were not yet available, though the measure was expected to pass, following its adoption in the Senate last week.
The French Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve a law that extended the state of emergency order set to expire Feb. 26 for at least another three months, according to a tweet from a reporter with French newspaper Le Monde. The order was first put in place following attacks on Paris last November and it gives law enforcement expanded powers that the government claims will allow for a crackdown on terror cells in the nation. The order will give the government more power in security situations, and French President Francois Hollande has led the charge on supporting this motion.
The order was put in place after attacks Nov. 13, 2015, in which Islamic terrorists who had pledged allegiance to the militant group known as ISIS slaughtered 130 people in cafes, restaurants, a concert hall and outside a stadium in Paris. It includes a provision for additional security and armed guards in public places, the right of police to search homes without a warrant, as well as a ban on public demonstration.
While some citizens have accepted the order as a necessary evil, others, including human rights activists, have decried it as an overreach of the government’s power, saying a state of emergency is no longer necessary.
One Parisian resident told International Business Times in November that she thought the state of emergency should have been lifted days later after the alleged architect of the attack was killed, along with several accomplices, in a raid in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis. “We’re leaving the door open to have an indefinite state of emergency, and I’m skeptical of that idea,” said Evelyn Chevilliard, 66.
The order can be used to unjustly target Muslims and immigrants from Middle Eastern countries, according to one activist. "France has a responsibility to ensure public safety and try to prevent further attacks, but the police have used their new emergency powers in abusive, discriminatory and unjustified ways," Izza Leghtas, a Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch, told German newspaper Deutsche Welle.