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France to Create Centers to Fight Radicalization | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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French PM Manuel Valls attends a news conference in Paris. Reuters

Prime Minister Manuel Valls unveiled on Monday a plan to create centers in each region of France to de-radicalize people or prevent them from becoming involved in extremist networks.

“The fight against jihadism is without doubt the big challenge of our generation,” Manuel Valls said at a press conference.

The PM was flanked by the interior and justice ministers when he told reporters that the plan aims to double existing efforts to try to help people already in jihadist networks or those likely to join such groups.

The pan is estimated to cost an additional 40 million euros ($45.5 million) by 2018 on top of the current funding.

The French PM said the first center could be set up by this summer.

The plan’s implementation came as a response to the deaths of 147 people in jihadist attacks in France last year.

Extremists stormed the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper and a Jewish supermarket in January 2015, killing 17 people.

Coordinated attacks on the capital claimed by ISIS in November 13 also left 130 people dead.

The two attacks were carried out mainly by French citizens who had become radicalized and fought abroad alongside extremist groups.

In a related development, a trial began in Belgium on Monday of a suspected extremist cell linked to the now-dead ringleader of last November’s lethal attacks in Paris.

Sixteen defendants, including nine who are still at large, are accused of involvement in what Belgian authorities say was a terrorist plot being mounted in the eastern city of Verviers.

Belgian authorities say the suspects were being directed from afar by Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who was hunted down by French police and killed days after the November attacks.