they live under police protection


For nearly twenty years, the Franco-Algerian journalist Mohamed Sifaoui has been threatened for his fight against radical Islam. He was therefore placed under police protection, taken in charge in April 2003 by the SDLP, the protection service: “With some police officers, we grew old together a bit! The security officer who is with me today carried out his first protection mission in 2003 by my side.”

A discreet security officer, armed of course, and who is never very far from Mohamed Sifaoui. “There is always apprehension, a fear of being shot in the head. But you have to tame the fear and, it is a deep conviction, no one will be able to silence me. If we do not defend the freedom of expression, there is no more democracy.”

Parisian lawyer Thibault de Montbrial has also been protected for several years because of his positions against Islamist terrorism. The criminal lawyer explains that he has filed about fifteen complaints for threats in the last ten years. “Several times people have come ‘in contact’ with my office. On the day of the release of my last book, there was a package in front of the office with electric wires obviously laid out to intimidate. This led to heavy intervention by the demining service.”

These are not just people who speak out in a fit of anger by tweeting or emailing you with death threats, but also people who go out of their way to come into contact with the intention of attack you physically.

Thibault de Montbrial, lawyer

at franceinfo

Last year, a threat against Thibault de Monbrial, coming from abroad and considered very serious, even justified the opening of an investigation by the anti-terrorist prosecution. So he protects himself: CCTV, bulletproof vest in his car, the lawyer doesn’t want to leave anything to chance. “I have been used for years, without even realizing it, to look around me, to look at people’s hands, etc. It has become second nature, a state of hypervigilance that takes away all spontaneity. In privacy, if you go home and tell your wife ‘Shall we go to the restaurant?’, you must have foreseen it. When we’re on vacation and we’re like ‘Here, let’s go for a walk, we need to predict. It is this loss of spontaneity that is most burdensome for those around you. Because it’s seven days a week, weekends, holidays, all the time.”

Lawyer Thibault de Montbrial in Boulogne-Billancourt (Hauts-de-Seine) on June 18, 2021 (VINCENT ISORE / MAXPPP)

“The people who protect us are of incredible humanity and finesse, continues Thibault de Monbrial. And even if our relationship remains professional, it’s true that a bond is created. They know our family. They watch us in the morning, they know if we are tired, in a good mood or not… These are people whose professional and human qualities must be saluted.”

Like Thibault de Montbrial, Mohamed Sifaoui or Ophelie Meunier, about thirty personalities are protected because of Islamist threats (journalists, lawyers, magistrates, political and religious leaders). According to our information, the level of protection of some of these personalities was increased during the trial of the November 13 attacks. And in total, if we add the highest state officials, the SDLP currently protects 194 people in France. The Head of State is protected by the GSPR, the security group of the Presidency of the Republic.

Uclat assesses the threat on a scale of one to four, the first corresponding to the highest threat. The police system is then set up by Luc Presson, the head of the protection service. “It can go from two police officers to five or six, depending on the risk but also depending on the times, indicates the latter. We can raise the level of protection. We adapt our system in cooperation with the services of Uclat and on the decision of the General Directorate of the National Police and the office of the Minister of the Interior. The SDLP is not a protection decision-making service.”

“We are a service provider who takes into account people who are designated to us, so as to ensure, with police means, the protection of these people, emphasizes Luc Presson. The choice of the mission is made by the Ministry of the Interior, on information communicated to it.

Our mission is to ensure the protection of people. We are not there to censor the protected personality, or to prevent him from having the media, personal or professional life that he wishes. Our role is to prevent this person from being attacked or threatened.

Luc Presson, leader of the SDLP

at franceinfo

it is therefore obviously necessary to be aware of the movements, of the possible demonstrations to which the person is going to go, so that we can take the preparatory measures for these movements, and always be vigilant, explains Luc Presson. We understand that it is difficult to bear for certain personalities, because it is a real constraint.

Luc Presson, head of the Protection Service, in Paris (France) February 2022 (DAVID DI GIACOMO / FRANCEINFO / RADIO FRANCE)

These delicate missions are entrusted to 600 police officers, schosen for their availability (up to 15 hours a day), ltheir composure, and their physical qualities. Nicolas, 40, is one of the SDLP security officers: “We never lose sight of ‘our’ personality. Never. We want to avoid something happening. Where we are going to be most vigilant are the crowds, where anything can happen to anyone. what time. And especially in political rallies, what we saw recently with Mr. Zemmour, for example.

As of March 4, the deadline for submitting 500 sponsorships, candidates who are not yet protected will then have to apply. And depending on the level of threat, they may then be assigned one or more security officers throughout the presidential campaign.

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