French churches get heavy security measures during Christmas time


Western Europe


French Gendarmes stand guard at the entrance of the Sacre-Coeur basilica. Photo AFP, Thomas Coex

The terrorist threat in France is so high that the French interior minister has asked the police for extra reinforcement and surveillance at all French churches and synagogues during Christmas and the Jewish festival of Hanukkah.

French newspaper Le Figaro reported this on Monday, as reported by the Dutch daily Reformatorisch Dagblad. The security measures involve police protection from 18 to 26 December, when Jews celebrate Hanukkah, and during the Christian Christmas holiday, at night. There is also heightened surveillance on 24 December, when Roman Catholics celebrate midnight mass, and during Armenian Christmas on 6 January and Orthodox Christmas on 7 January.

Each department prefect (representative of the central authority in the departments), in collaboration with those responsible for the worship service, will identify risks and adjust the number of police officers accordingly.

The gendarmes will monitor vehicles parked near places of worship in view of a possible bomb blast. It is also essential that the police have a visible presence during church services and other religious gatherings at the end of the year.

The terrorist threat level is now called "extremely high".



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