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Le Pen vows to tackle ‘root of evil’ in France

PARIS (AP) — The Latest on France’s two-round, April 23-May 7 presidential election (all times local):

9:35 p.m.

Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen wants to fight terrorism by tackling the “root of evil” in French society.

She said in a speech on Monday she would oversee a tough repression of criminals who risk turning to jihad and a cleanup within the Muslim population to rid it of fundamentalists who try to intimidate peaceful believers.

There are more jihadis in Syria from France than any other European country.

Le Pen vowed to “reconquer the lost territory of the Republic” by ensuring French law, not Muslim Sharia law, prevails.

Among measures she listed to reduce the risk of terrorism are ensuring sermons are delivered in French and dissolving the Union of Islamic Organizations of France.

She also wants a minimum defense budget of 2 percent of GNP written into the Constitution and a single agency to fight the terror threat.

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5:05 p.m.

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron wants to hold discussions with U.S. social media groups about how to halt the spread of “Islamist propaganda.”

Macron, a centrist considered the front-runner in the upcoming election, told a press conference he wants to “have a frank discussion” with the internet giants, such as Apple, Facebook, Google and Twitter.

He also pledged to work with other European countries and members of the NATO alliance to force internet firms to provide data encryption keys to police or access to some encrypted contents when needed in a counterterrorism investigation.

He said only an “international coordinated initiative” can put pressure on the internet giants.

Macron also said he will maintain French operations in Iraq, Syria and Africa’s Sahel regions against Islamic extremists.

France has been under a state of emergency since the 2015 attacks in Paris.

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1:55 p.m.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry has condemned comments by France’s far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen denying that the French State was responsible for rounding up Jews in World War II.

The ministry says in a statement that her comments are “contrary to historical truth, as expressed in the statements of successive French presidents who recognized France’s responsibility for the fate of the French Jews who perished in the Holocaust.”

Former president Jacques Chirac formally acknowledged the state’s role in Jewish persecution in 1995, a position maintained and approved by his successors Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry also says France’s recognition of its responsibility “underpins the annual events marking the anniversary of the expulsion of the Jews from France and the study of the Holocaust in the education system, both of which are important elements in the battle against anti-Semitism, which unfortunately is once again raising its head.”

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10:30 a.m.

Emmanuel Macron, an independent French presidential candidate, says his far-right rival Marine Le Pen made “a serious mistake” by denying that France State was responsible for the roundup of Jews in World War II.

He was among many presidential candidates criticizing Le Pen’s comments Monday.

Macron, the front-runner in the April 23-May 7 two-round election, told BFM TV that “some had forgotten that Marine Le Pen is the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen.” Le Pen’s father repeatedly has been convicted for anti-Semitism and racism.

Le Pen said Sunday on RTL radio “I don’t think France is responsible for the Vel d’Hiv,” a reference to the stadium where thousands of Jews were rounded up in July 1942 before being sent to Nazi death camps.

Le Pen later said in a statement she “considers that France and the Republic were in London” during wartime and “the Vichy regime wasn’t France.”

In all, about 75,000 Jews were deported from France to Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Only 2,500 survived.


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