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France extends state of emergency to cover Euro 2016 games

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
French riot police officers stand guard outside the National Assembly in Paris on May 12, 2016. (AFP photo)

The French parliament has extended the post-attacks state of emergency for two months to cover the prestigious European football games the country is to host.

Lawmakers in the National Assembly, France’s lower house of parliament, voted to endorse the extension by 46 votes to 20 on Thursday, a week after it was approved by a large majority in the upper house Senate.

France expects more than two million to visit the country for the Euro 2016 games between June 10 and July 10.

The emergency law was imposed following November 13 attacks which killed 130 people in the capital Paris. The attacks, claimed by Daesh, a Takfiri group based in Iraq and Syria, also targeted a major football match between France and Germany at the Parc des Princes stadium.

The parliament had extended the law in February until May 26, giving the police the authority to hold people under house arrest whose behavior is considered “a threat to security and public order.” Security forces were also allowed to carry out raids at homes without court order, but Thursday's extension suspended that special authority.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said ahead of the vote that the terrorist threat still “remains at a high level,” and that France, like the European Union, is a target.

Exposed to the possibility whether France would cancel staging the Euro 2016, Prime Minister Manuel Valls had denied any such plan existed at all.

“Giving up on sporting events and cultural events is precisely to give in to the terrorist threat,” Valls said earlier, vowing that everything had been done to limit the chance of attacks.

Rights campaigners have criticized the extensions, saying the government was becoming “hooked on the state of emergency.”

“It reflects... a desire to condition us to living under this regime, hoping that the women and men of this country will forget that the defense of our freedoms is another essential way of fighting terrorism,” the French Human Rights League said in a statement last month.

Millions more are expected to arrive in France for the high-profile Tour de France cycling race, which is set for July 2-24.

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