What does "a state of emergency" in France entail?

See subject. Hollande has proposed extending it to three months (anything longer than its current state–the length of which I also don’t know–must be put to Parliament.

Spooky stuff, because you always hear how despots–NOT claiming it here–impose such a thing and extend it forever.

Etat d’urgence is essentially what we would call martial law. The government can impose curfews, search homes without a warrant, close public spaces and break up gatherings.

I assume President Hollande is using the powers set out in Article 16 of the French Constitution:

Exactly what measures he is proposing, I don’t know. Perhaps one of our French Dopers will be along to advise.

No, it’s not the same thing as martial law. A state of emergency gives extraordinary powers to civil authorities, and particularly the police. Martial law transfers powers (for instance police powers) to the army

(and finally in “state of siege”, the army is fully in charge over civil authorities. For instance in an area near the frontline during a war).

As for what it entails exactly, it varies. It could range from imposing a curfew in an area for some days to allowing arrests without warrants. In this case, the details are as follow (fromthis articlein French ) :

Aythorities and police will now be allowed to :
-Mandate a curfew in areas where significant public disorder could be expected

-Restrict movement of of people or vehicles in specific places for specific durations.

-Put in place areas where stay of people is regulated (I don’t understand what it’s supposed to mean in French, either)

-Forbid the access to a “departement” (more or less a county) to any person trying to interfer with the action of public authorities.

-Put under house arrest any person whose activity is dangerous for public safety or public order

-Requisition people or property if needed to keep order

-Order the temporary closing of show venues, bars and meeting places of any nature.

-Forbiding meetings likely to cause or further public disorder.

-Oblige weapon owners to surrender them to authorities

-Do house searches night and day (house searches are normally forbidden during the night in France)

-Take measures to insure the control of the press and medias.
As you can see, it’s pretty extensive and far reaching. Way too extensive and far reaching for my taste. Last time we had something like that, there was a military coup underway (and I wasn’t born) , which is a very different situation.

Too late to edit : of course, every individual measure could be justified. For instance, “control of medias” could be used to shut down some website supporting terrorist actions rather than having every paper published in France going through government censorship first. Closing meeting places to forbid a meeting where there’s a risk of attack rather than to remove the right to hold public meetings in general.
Hopefully they intend it this way. But it could also be implemented in a very excessive way.

Also you would have to read the exact language of the decree (rather than the summary of a paper), which I didn’t do, to know what exactly are the limits of these emergency powers.

This is a very troubling development. While the world naturally feels great empathy with the French at this tragic time, it is not the moment for curtailing civil rights and turning on Muslims. The French themselves reminded us shortly after 9/11 that it was a time for introspection and self-reappraisal:

"…the writers of Le Monde suggest (that 9/11) provides the opportunity for a profound reevaluation of the United States worldview. On September 15th, an article entitled “Refuser le manichèisme” warns gravely that “The natural and spontaneous solidarity manifested, notably in Europe, with the American people and its leaders does not justify simplistic conclusions.” This talk of “simplistic conclusions” is a direct attack on American unilateralism and dualism, the “us versus them,” “Good versus Evil” rhetoric that is intertwined with a unilateralist worldview. The author warns against the dangers of racial and religious stigma of Arabs and Muslims respectively, cautioning the world and the United States not to “diabolize” the Muslim population.”

The French historically have zealously guarded civil liberties:

*"While easy to oversimplify, the French state also has a lot of power to pry into the lives of citizens and arrest suspects in the name of pre-emption.

“France has a very aggressive system, and before 9/11 they were centralizing the intelligence process and fixing laws to let them grab people very early to disrupt anything in advance,” says Gary Schmitt, an intelligence expert and resident scholar in security studies at the American Enterprise Institute. “They do a lot of things, including telephone intercepts, that make the Patriot Act look namby-pamby. In the U.S., we talk of pre-emption in military terms, but the French talk of it on the home front, to discover plots and conspiracies.”

The French approach has been criticized for overzealousness, racial bias and the abuse of civil rights. "*

Thanks clairobscur. Please know that we are thinking of you and France and hope matters improve.