Thousands of people in France have marched against plans to renew the state of emergency imposed after last year's Paris attacks. Activists have also taken issue with a proposal to strip terrorists of French citizenship.
Protesters in several French cities braved the rain and cold on Saturday to denounce the government's proposed extension of the state of emergency, which is set to expire at the end of February.
The largest demonstration took place in Paris, where police put participation at 5,000. Rally organizers, however, estimated a turnout of 20,000 people. Smaller marches were also held in 70 other cities, including Toulouse, Bordeaux and Marseille.
The Socialist government of President Francois Hollande adopted state of emergency legislation in the wake of the November 13 terror attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead. France's parliament is due to debate a proposal to extend the measure for a further three months in the coming days, ahead of a vote in the Senate later in February.
Protesters at Saturday's march complained that the emergency measures, which restrict public gatherings and give greater powers to police, have harmed democracy. Green party lawmaker Noel Mamere, who was taking part, said the state of emergency had laid the foundations for "a society under surveillance."
Other opponents argued it had done little to tackle the threat of terrorism.
"It has already been used during the COP 21 (climate talks) to lock down demonstrators who had nothing to do with terrorism, so I think that if it is extended, I don't know what more they could use it for, but in any case, it will not prevent terrorism," Alexandra Scappaticci, one of the protesters in Paris, told Reuters.
French lawmakers will also be considering a controversial plan to revoke the French citizenship of convicted terrorists with dual nationality. The measures have angered rights groups, who fear the move could fuel racism. Justice Minister Christiane Taubira announced her resignation earlier this week, citing her deep reservations about the reforms.
nm/bw (Reuters, AFP, AP)