The converted chateau in central France. Image: Geraldine Hallot
A Center for the “deradicalization” of Muslim extremists, set up in Central France last September, is empty. The last man to be “treated” at the chateau of Pontourny, in Beaumont-en-Véron, left on February 8. Although France has listed thousands as “radicalized” in the police data banks, there were never more than six or seven at any given time and only nine people ever volunteered for the center which can house up to 30.
“Are there no volunteers for deradicalization?” asked right wing parliamentarian, Eric Ciotti, in a tweet. “In that case don’t ask them.”
The young man who left on Tuesday after two months at the center was sentenced to four months for “apology of terrorism” and violence even though a condition for going is no violent crimes. Another error was sending a man from Strasbourg last month who was arrested for being a member of a Jihadist network.
Employees said the Center did not help its last pensioner who saw the program as “anti Islam proselytism which just seemed to radicalize him even more.” They said his rejection of France only grew. The young man asked to leave the center.
A collective of residents in the town are demanding the center be shut down and will demonstrate on Saturday, February 11. They complain that they have not been properly informed and that some of the pensioners were diagnosed as mentally ill and that it is a waste of money with 30 employees for two or three being lodged there at any given time.
Even the mayor of Beaumont-en-Véron is furious. “We were always told it would not be a center for deradicalization but one to aid youth to not become radicalized,” Bernard Château told La Nouvelle République newspaper. “All the nuance is there.”