France to expel 231 suspected extremists after attack on teacher: source

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PARIS (Reuters) – France is preparing to deport 231 foreigners on a government watch list for suspected extremist religious beliefs, a police union source said on Sunday, two days after a Russian-born Islamist beheaded a teacher.

The French Ministry of the Interior, responsible for expelling foreigners, was not available to confirm the information, initially reported by Europe 1.

France defines extremists as “people who, engaged in a process of radicalization, are likely to want to go abroad to join terrorist groups or participate in terrorist activities”.

The centrist government of President Emmanuel Macron has come under pressure from conservative and far-right parties to take a stronger stance on non-nationals seen as a security threat.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin asked local prefects to order the evictions during a meeting on Sunday afternoon, according to the source and Europe 1.

Of the total number of suspects, 180 people are currently in prison and 51 are expected to be arrested in the next few hours, the police union source said.

Darmanin also asked the services of his ministry to examine more closely the applications of people wishing to obtain refugee status in France, the source said.

The suspected 18-year-old Islamist who beheaded a history teacher in front of his school on Friday was born in Russia of Chechen origin and had refugee status.

Macron held a Defense Council meeting with senior cabinet ministers on Sunday.

Reporting by Caroline Pallier and Sybille from La Hamaide; Edited by Alexandra Hudson

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