France Mourns as Christian Police Officer 'Hero' Honored with State Funeral

Thursday, 29 Mar, 2018

While some have voiced support for the decision, saying that by reducing the age to 3 it will help their children to feel more accepted in society, others are wary.

Col. Beltrame exchanged places with one of the hostages and was subsequently shot, a sacrifice that saw him praised by President Emmanuel Macron, who later in the day will award him France's highest accolade Legion d'Honneur, the BBC reported.

While French authorities had monitored Radouane Lakdim before his rampage Friday and normally share information about radicalized dual nationals, "We were not notified about Lakdim's radical background", Abdelhak Khiame, director of Morocco's Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations, told The Associated Press.

The hero French policeman who swapped himself to save a hostage during a terror attack last week had his throat cut by the terrorist.

Speaking on Tuesday, Macron, who has named education as one of the priorities of his term, said he hoped the new measure would "correct this unacceptable differential".

Around 200 of Beltrame's colleagues from the gendarmerie, a national police force which is part of the military, will attend the ceremony in Paris from 6.30pm Singapore time.

Macron, the 40-year-old who swept to power last May promising to transform France into a "start-up nation", wants to avoid seeing France and Europe fall behind Chinese and USA giants such as Alphabet's Google, Microsoft and Alibaba in this area.

Three people, including Beltrame, were killed in the supermarket in Trebes while a fourth person was killed earlier during a carjacking in the nearby city of Carcassonne.

Tributes for the 44-year-old gendarme began with a minute's silence in police barracks across the country, before his flag-draped coffin was driven through the streets of Paris.

In a message addressed to Bishop Alain Planet of Carcassone and Narbonne, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to all those affected by a terrorist attack that left four people dead and 15 injured on 23 March.

"You behaved in your last moments just as you behaved throughout your whole life: as a patriot, as a good man, as a man with a big heart", said Beltrame's brother Damien.

Rightwing opposition leader Laurent Wauquiez and far-right leader Marine Le Pen have accused the government of a laxist approach to the jihadist approach.

Lakdim had been on a government watch list - known as Fiche S - since 2014, suspected of links to a local Salafist network.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has hit back at politicians who "promise people zero risk", and rejected hardline proposals from rightwingers such as an outright ban on ultraconservative Islam.

Observers say the move is more of a symbolic gesture, as the vast majority of parents in France already enroll their children in an école maternelle (preschool) from the age of three, taking advantage of the free system.