8 Jan 2018

What will happen to French Jihadi Emilie König?

She was the most wanted female French jihadi. This week, Le Monde revealed that Emilie König, captured by the Kurdish forces in Syria, has been detained since December.

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 will happen to French Jihadi Emilie König? - NewsMavens
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Why this story matters:

-- by Roxanne D'Arco

violence, conflict, women's issues

This week, the 33-year-old woman demanded that the French government return her to her country for a fair trial. She wants her children, all born in the Islamic State, to accompany her. She has lived there since the summer of 2012.

Emilie König was allegedly a recruiter for ISIS, attracting young French-speaking women to join the terrorist organization in Syria.

This case illustrates one of France's trickiest dilemmas -- what should the government do with those coming back from ISIS?

Over the last years, though never officially stated, the message was quite clear -- the French would prefer the “warriors” to never return and die while fighting the international coalition. However, the answer isn’t that obvious when it comes to women and children.

In theory, women who lived on ISIS territories were prohibited from fighting. We still don’t know how exactly they were involved in the system, but their main role was supposed to be reproduction.

In November 2017, the French President, Emmanuel Macron declared that the potential returns of the women must be examined “case by case”. However, on January 3 the spokesperson for the French government announced that female jihadists arrested in the Kurdish part of Syria are to be “judged there”, if the “justice institutions are capable of ensuring a fair trial”.

According to Khaled Issa, a representative of the Syrian Kurdistan in France, the detainees could be judged in Syria, but the French government’s decision will be respected, if they wish to put them on trial in France.

** Roxanne D'Arco is a freelance journalist based in Paris. She writes about social issues in France, but also in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern world. Follow her here.**

Details from the story:

  • Emilie König was the most wanted female French jihadi.
  • She has been on the UN black list of the most dangerous fighters since September 2014
  • According to RMC, a French news media, more than 10 French women and their children might have been arrested over the last weeks.
  • France doesn't have a clear strategy for the future of these women in their home country. 
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