Sarkozy announces crackdown on Internet hate sites

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President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Thursday that France would make it a crime to consult Web sites that advocate terrorism or hate crimes and would toughen a crackdown on people who went abroad for ideological indoctrination.

"From now on, any person who habitually consults Web sites that advocate terrorism or that call for hatred and violence will be criminally punished," Sarkozy said in a televised address after police shot dead an al Qaeda-inspired gunman who had killed seven people.

"France will not tolerate forced recruitment or ideological indoctrination on its soil," Sarkozy said, adding that an enquiry would be launched into whether prisons were being used to propagate extremism in France.

He said authorities were investigating whether Mohamed Merah, a 23-year-old Frenchman of Algerian origin, acted alone in the shootings of three Jewish children and four adults in southwest France.

Merah died on Wednesday in a hail of bullets when he jumped from a window after elite police commandos entered the apartment where he was holed up following a seige of more than 30 hours.