SHARE
COPY LINK

POLITICS

Macron lays out measures to crackdown on ‘separatist’ Islam in France

President Emmanuel Macron unveiled a plan Friday to defend France's secular values against radical Islam, announcing stricter oversight of schooling and better control over foreign funding of mosques.

Macron lays out measures to crackdown on 'separatist' Islam in France
French president Emmanuel Macron intends to preset a bill to parliament in December. Photo: AFP

Describing Islam as a religion “in crisis” worldwide, Macron insisted that “no concessions” would be made in a new drive to eradicate extremist religious teaching in schools and mosques.

At the same time, Macron said France must do more to offer economic and social mobility to immigrant communities, adding radicals had often filled the vacuum.

His long-awaited address came 18 months before presidential elections where Macron is set to face a challenge from the right, as public concern grows over security in France.

“Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world today, we are not just seeing this in our country,” Macron said in Les Mureaux, a town outside Paris with a historically large immigrant population.

He said extremists were seeking to indoctrinate new converts across the country, which has one of the largest Muslim populations in Europe.

He denounced a trend of “Islamist separatism” that flouts French rules and seeks to create a “counter-society” holding its own laws above all others.

This form of sectarianism often translates into children being kept out of school, and the use of sporting, cultural and other community activities as a “pretext to teach principles that do not conform to the laws of the republic,” Macron said.

He said the government would present a bill in December that would strengthen the country's bedrock 1905 law that officially separated church and state.

'Liberate' French Islam

Among the new law's provisions, there will be closer scrutiny of the curriculum at private schools and stricter limits on home-schooling for reasons other than a child's health problems.

Community associations that receive state subsidies will have to sign a contract avowing their commitment to secularism and the values of France.

There will be closer scrutiny of such organisations, and the law will make it easier to shutter those breaking anti-indoctrination rules.

The new measures will also include a ban on the wearing of religious symbols for employees of subcontractors providing public services, such as transport operators.

The rule already applies to public servants.

Macron said there had been increased reports of abuses by sub-contracting staff, including bus drivers refusing women entry for wearing clothing considered too revealing.

He emphasised that it was necessary to “liberate Islam in France from foreign influences,” naming countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.

To this end, the government will step up checks on foreign financing of mosques and clamp down on letting imams go abroad for training, or on hosting foreign preachers on French soil.

'Ghettoisation'

Macron stressed that the measures did not seek to stigmatise or alienate France's Muslims but to bolster “our ability to live together.”

He urged better understanding of Islam and said the problem of radicalisation was partly a product of the “ghettoisation” of French cities and towns where “we constructed our own separatism.”

“We have concentrated populations based on their origins, we have not sufficiently created diversity, or ensured economic and social mobility” in segregated areas, he said.

Radical Islamists have swooped in, taking advantage of “our withdrawal, our cowardice,” he added.

France has in recent years been forced to take a hard look at its core republican values, perceived by many to be threatened by Islam in the wake of several terror attacks since 2015 targeting secular liberties such as freedom of expression.

Macron was speaking one week after a man wounded two people with a meat cleaver outside the former Paris offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly, which the government denounced as “Islamist terrorism.”

Staff at Charlie Hebdo were massacred in January 2015 by Islamist gunmen seeking to avenge its publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.

In January, a renewed debate about freedom of expression erupted when a teenager received death threats for attacking Islam in an expletive-laden Instagram rant.

And earlier this month, divisions were highlighted when MPs walked out when a university student entered parliament in a headscarf.

Member comments

  1. I’m not particularly bothered with Macron, to be honest. But whatever strict law he decides to impose on these disgusting islamic extremists, would be greatly welcomed.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

POLITICS

Beautiful game sparks ugly row at French parliament

Sport and charity work are among few subjects warring politicians unite around, but not so in the new French parliament where a dispute has erupted over whether far-right MPs can play in the assembly's football team.

Beautiful game sparks ugly row at French parliament

Left-wing parties and the governing Renaissance group of President Emmanuel Macron announced Tuesday they would boycott a charity game if the far-right National Rally (RN) joins the parliament side.

Even though the RN has historically high representation with 89 seats in the assembly, “that doesn’t mean that we should help them in their desire to normalise themselves,” government spokesman Olivier Veran told CNews television.

Senior Renaissance MP Aurore Berge fretted about the team photo, telling fellow centrist lawmakers: “We are not in the same team. Neither far-right, nor far-left.”

The row underlines a decades-long dilemma for mainstream French politicians over how to deal with the far-right parties of Jean Marie Le Pen and his daughter Marine Le Pen since their emergence in the 1970s.

Some have tried to boycott them entirely, including former president Jacques Chirac, who refused to debate Jean-Marie in 2002 when they faced off in the final round of the presidential election.

She scored 41.4 percent in the second round of April’s presidential election and the party increased its number of seats 10-fold in June’s parliamentary vote.

“It says a lot about these people in reality,” Le Pen told RTL radio on Wednesday about the football row. “It’s hatred all the time,  everywhere, non-stop fighting.”

Veran, an enthusiastic player in previous parliament charity matches, acknowledged his own misgivings about the boycott.

“In saying that I won’t go to play, I am taking part in a phenomenon that serves to reinforce the notion that they (the far-right) are ostracised, that they are victims of the system,” he said.

SHOW COMMENTS