Thousands took to the streets in Paris on Saturday to protest the proposed extension of a state of emergency that was imposed after the terrorist attacks in November 2015 .
Organizers said about 20,000 people attended the public protest despite the heavy rain, while Police reported that about 5,000 people took part in the demonstration.
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Protesters chanted slogans including “state of emergency – police state.”
The demonstrators said they fear the state of emergency could never end.
One protester said, “Until when? The end of Daesh? Ten years? Never?!”
Another demonstrator said the state of emergency, which is planned to be extended for another three months, was a “permanent coup d’état.”
The protesters said the government’s policing measures during the state of emergency are curbing human rights.
Elsewhere, in other cities, including Toulouse in the south, similar events were organized by unions, human rights organizations and other social groups.
A further cause of discontent is a government plan to strip convicted French-born terrorists of their citizenship if they have a second nationality.
That proposal has already triggered the resignation of Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, who stood down in protest over the plan this week after the reforms were presented to parliament.
Continuous state of emergency
The French parliament is due to debate the state of emergency in the coming days as President Francois Hollande seeks parliamentary approval to extend the current three-month measure, which expires on February 26.
The Senate is to vote on the proposal on February 9, followed by a vote in the National Assembly on February 16.
The state of emergency was introduced following the Paris attacks in mid-November that left 130 people dead.
On January 27, France’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, refused to lift the state of emergency.
It ruled that the “imminent danger justifying the state of emergency has not disappeared, given the ongoing terrorist threat and the risk of attacks.”
Last week, United Nations human rights experts said the measures imposed by the French government were “excessive and disproportionate” restrictions on basic human rights.
The Saturday protesters called for an end to the imposed state of emergency and the nationality proposal, measures they say “strike at our freedom in the name of hypothetical security.”
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