Macron’s Draft Legislature to Protect French Values Alienates Muslims

Written by | Tuesday, October 6th, 2020
@Eubulletin

In a closely watched address on Friday (2 October), French President Emmanuel Macron called Islam “a religion that is in crisis all over the world,” while addressing what he calls “separatism” in France’s Islamic community. His speech came just days after two people were stabbed in front of Charlie Hebdo newspaper’s former headquarters and as a trial unfolds over the 2015 terrorist attacks against the satirical French weekly and a kosher supermarket. Meanwhile, upcoming legislation crafted to “protect” the French Republic and French values will likely be deeply divisive, with French Muslims fearing it will unfairly single them out. The French president also said Islam is in deep crisis even in countries where it is the majority religion, because of “tensions between fundamentalism and political projects … that lead to very strong radicalization.”
Macron’s discourse is a curtain-raiser of sorts for this upcoming draft bill against “separatist” threats, which officials say is clearly aimed not only at Islamist extremism but also groups like white supremacists. The draft legislation is also expected to further crack down on foreign financing of mosques and private religious schools, bar foreign imams, boost monitoring of associations and individuals suspected of “separatism” and ban efforts threatening gender equality, including pre-marriage “virginity certificates” for Muslim women. Still, the legislation has already sparked sharp controversy well before its rollout later this fall. While some welcome the government’s so-called anti-separatisms drive as long overdue, leaders of France’s – and continental Europe’s largest – roughly six-million-strong Muslim community fear it may unfairly single them out.
But Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, the grandson of a Muslim immigrant, defends the draft legislation. “There is no incompatibility between being Muslim and being a (French) citizen,” he says, adding that the legislation aims to attack the “enemies of France” — terrorists but also political groups threatening “the French model of free expression, our way of living, the way we teach our children.” Macron and his predecessors have tried to put a French stamp on Islam, ensuring the country’s large and diverse Muslim community is in line with its staunchly secular values. And the upcoming legislation may be a first step for Macron to translate his promises to create an “Islam de France” into reality.

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GREEN & SOCIAL EUROPE

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