Francois Fillon has echoed Marine Le Pen with a new policy as he tries to make a political comeback
The conservative presidential hopeful called for jihadis with dual nationality who have fought alongside Islamic State (ISIS) rebels in Iraq or Syria to be stripped of their French passports in a bid to crackdown on homegrown extremism.
It came just days after he was targeted by terrorists who were plotting an “imminent” attack before Sunday’s first round of voting.
He told French daily Le Figaro: “We need a global counter-terrorism strategy, that is the only way we will be able to combat the terror threat – both internal and external.
“We must also impose harsher measures against homegrown radicals. Those who have fled to Iraq or Syria to join jihadi groups should be stripped of their French nationality.”
National security and migration are top of the agenda for the presidential candidates after a number of terror attacks in France putting voters on edge.
GETTY – STOCK IMAGE
He called for jihadis who have fought alongside ISIS rebels to be stripped of their French passports
At a rally last night Front National’s Marine Le Pen stepped up her anti-immigration rhetoric. She has vowed to stop Schengen free movement and get tough on migrants.
Suspected extremists whose names are on the terrorist watch list should not be allowed to roam freely
Mr Fillon, who is centre-right, said suspected radical Islamists listed on the government’s terrorism ‘S watch list’ should be kept under close surveillance.
He added: “Suspected extremists whose names are on the terrorist watch list should not be allowed to roam freely… Mayors and senior officials should have the right to know who in their town is on that list.”
Confirming he was the target of a terrorist attack, he refused to let jihadis derail his campaign.
He said: “They (the suspects) probably targeted the candidate with the most hardline stance against radical Islamic terrorism. But, in truth, French society is the true target.”
Mrs Le Pen stepped up her anti-immigration rhetoric at a rally last night
Who will be the next President of France?
Mon, March 20, 2017
Candidates for the 2017 French Presidential Election revealed
1 of 6
The embattled candidate added that his rival Emmanuel Macron’s proposed anti-terror policies were “vague,” before adding that the independent centrist “refused to acknowledge” the rise of Islamic extremism in France.
Mr Fillon also commented on the Syrian conflict, and said that the US-led coalition was wrong to shun Russia and Iran – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s unbending allies.
He said: “The US-led coalition cannot eradicate Islamic totalitarianism in Syria alone. The coalition has made a huge mistake by refusing to cooperate with the regime’s allies, Russia and Iran. An alliance I have been calling for for four years. What’s more, we cannot crush ISIS in Syria without the help of the Assad regime.
"Claiming that Mr al-Assad’s presence is what is stopping the West from joining forces with Russia and Iran has led us into an impasse.”
Mr Fillon said suspected radical Islamists should be kept under close surveillance
Signalling a rocky relationship with Donald Trump, should he win the election, Mr Fillon condemned the US President’s decision to unilaterally attack Syria days after the regime launched a chemical weapons attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun, killing scores of civilians.
He said: “Mr Trump is unpredictable. He is quick to change his mind and his Syria strategy is dangerous. He needs to take a step back.”
Confident he would make it through to the two-candidate run-off, Mr Fillon said: “If French right-wing voters vote for Marine Le Pen, they will end up with Emmanuel Macron… I will make it to the final round runoff.”