Understanding the new French law targeting Muslims
The law, which was criticized for demonizing Muslims and granting the state extra powers to censor expression and religious communities, was supported by a strong majority of Members of the French National Assembly.
On Tuesday, the lower house of the French parliament approved a law to fight against extremism and so-called Islamist separatism. It is billed by the centrist party led by President Emmanuel Macron, as a riposte to religious groups attempting to undermine the secular state.
The proposed legislation passed in the lower house of Parliament with a majority of 347 votes favoring the bill, 151 against and 65 lawmakers abstained to vote.
Next month legislation will be tabled in the upper house Senate, where Macron’s party does not hold a majority.
This law is the attack on groups that reject secularism, equality, and other French values and laws said President Macron, country is facing repeated terror attacks so we must have to mitigate it, he added.
Among more than 70 separate articles, the law allows the state to shut down, places of worship, religious schools and imposes a ban on extremist preachers. The religious organization receiving foreign funds will have to certify their accounts as well.
It’s an extremely strong secular offensive, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told RTL Radio ahead of the vote Tuesday. “It is tough text… but necessary for the republic”.
In October, Samuel Paty, a school teacher beheaded by an 18 years old Russian national of Chechen origin, after showing the caricature of Prophet Mohammad, in the name of free speech.
8.6 millions of Muslims consist the total French population, said Mohammed Moussaoui, the president of the French Council of Muslim Faith. But increasing government oversight in religious activities will make Muslims feel that they are being treated unfairly.
After 2 weeks of heated discussion, the vote in the House of the National Assembly was the first crucial challenge to the law that has been in effect for a long time. The bill passed between 347 and 151, with 65 abstentions.
Analysts still see the new legislation as a cynical scheme to attract the right-wing to Macron’s centrist party ahead of next year’s presidential election.
“I don’t see how this will help to stop the terrorism,” said Ouadie Elhamamouchi, a lawyer for the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) civil rights group said.
“This law above all has a political rather than legal motive. It’s stigmatizing Muslims.”
Rules negotiated with the legislation on separatism to date include penalties for online hate speech, stricter restrictions on home-schooling, limitations on contributions to religious organizations from overseas, and a provision for all associations in France to accept public funds to sign a pledge to uphold Republican ideals.
“This is Macron’s gamble,” said Philippe Marliere, a professor at the United Kingdom’s University College London. “To focus on the sort of issues – the so-called terrorist threat posed by extremists – Macron is of the view that this will send a message to the public that it will curb the influence of the far-right.”
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