SHAFAQNA – President Hollande is hoping to unite his divided nation in the fight against terrorism by enrolling its youth in charitable programmes that include, among other things, learning how to play table tennis.
Mr Hollande believes that he can stem the number of the country’s disaffected youths allying themselves with jihadist movements by tripling the number of volunteers involved in the state’s existing civic service scheme to reach a total of 150,000 a year.
Under this programme, 16 to 25 year olds are paid about £380 a month to spend between six months and a year undertaking charitable work in France or abroad. Vacancies currently available include: ‘Developing the practice of table tennis in working class areas of Paris’.
While Mr Hollande has told aides to draw up plans for a bigger voluntary programme, there have been demands for conscription to be reintroduced after the deaths of 17 people in terror attacks in Paris last month, which underlined the fracture in French society.
Although millions of French people marched to express their horror at the killings, there was a rebellion among children of immigrant origin when some schools tried to hold a minute’s silence in homage to the victims.
Marine Le Pen, the National Front leader, is among several politicians calling for a return to military service to “learn the basic values of French civilisation” — although army chiefs said they had no desire for any such move.
Mr Hollande is reluctant to introduce an obligatory civic service, partly for budgetary reasons. Economists said that it would cost about £2 billion a year to make all 600,000 school leavers join.
Source : thetimes.co.uk