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  • An armed French soldier patrols in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, in this picture taken on December 24, 2015, as a security alert continued following the November shooting attacks in the French capital.

    An armed French soldier patrols in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, in this picture taken on December 24, 2015, as a security alert continued following the November shooting attacks in the French capital. | Photo: Reuters

Activists say the French government's crackdown on protests has done nothing to make the country safer.

Thousands of people marched across France Saturday to protest the country's nearly three month old state of emergency.

Rallies took place in around 70 cities, including the capital Paris, where organizers said more than 20,000 people took to the streets. Police put turnout at closer to 5000.

Many protesters said the state of emergency had curbed civil rights while doing little to improve security.

"It has already been used during the COP 21 (climate talks) to lock down demonstrators who had nothing to do with terrorism, so I think that if it is extended, I don't know what more they could use it for, but in any case, it will not prevent terrorism,” protester Alexandra Scappaticci told Reuters in Paris.

Another protester told RT the emergency measures have drifted from their intended objectives.

“Some rallies were prohibited, some people were arrested just for protesting peacefully. That shocks me,” the protester argued.

French President Francois Hollande imposed the state of emergency in the wake of the November 13 Paris attacks, which left 130 people dead.

Under the emergency measures, police have been granted extended powers, including the ability to enforce tough new restrictions on public gatherings like protests. The state of emergency will expire in late Febuary, though the president has stated he hopes to renew the measures.

Hollande has also proposed a bill that would allow the government to revoke citizenship for duel nationals found guilty under terror laws. The controversial proposal has already prompted the country's justice minister Christiane Taubira to resign in protest.

“Sometimes you remain in place to resist. Sometimes resisting means you go. Out of loyalty to oneself, to us. For the last word in ethics and law,” Taubira said.

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