Monday, August 2

French parliamentarians back controversial law aimed at cracking down on Islamic radicalism

French MPs on Tuesday passed a controversial anti-separatism law, which plans to crack down on online hate speech and foreign funding of religious groups.

It was adopted by 347 votes in favor, 151 votes against, and 65 abstentions. The vote came after more than 55 hours of debate over the previous two weeks, resulting in the adoption of 144 amendments to all 70 articles of the legislation.

Senators are scheduled to examine the legislation, officially called the bill “reinforcing republican principles,” on March 30.

He plans to drastically reduce homeschooling and allow authorities to deny parents the right to homeschool their children. Currently, parents who wish to do so only need to inform the authorities.

The government has argued that homeschooling is being used as a shield by some families who then send their children to clandestine religious groups.

The legislation will also create a new crime with the act of disseminating information about the private, family or professional life of a person that makes them identifiable with the aim of endangering their life with a penalty of three years in prison and a fine of up to € 45,000 .

This is intended to clamp down on hate speech online and comes in response to the October 2020 beheading of Samuel Patty, a teacher who had shown cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad during a class on freedom of expression.

The supervision of religious groups would also be reinforced by the bill with foreign donations of more than € 10,000 prohibited. The authorities would also have the right to close any places of worship that are discovered to spread ideas or theories that could lead to discrimination from other groups.

Other types of associations that do not respect republican values ​​could also be closed.

Anyone who attempts to intimidate a public service representative into granting an exemption or partial exemption from these rules based on religious beliefs will be punished with five years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros.

France’s precious principle of laity It would also be further protected by public servants and any entity representing the state obliged to ensure respect for the principles of secularism and neutrality of the state.

The legislation also prohibits medical professionals from providing so-called “virginity certificates,” a prerequisite often asked of women before forced marriage, and strengthens tools and punitive measures against forced marriages and polygamy.

The first drafts of the law were presented by French President Emmanuel Macron in October 2020 during a speech on secularism and Islam after Patty’s murder.

Macron’s speech sparked a boycott of French products in several Muslim countries followed by sometimes violent protests during which the French flag and images of Macron were set on fire.

The protests also took place at home. The most recent, on Sunday, drew 200 people in Paris who accused the law of “reinforcing discrimination against Muslims.”

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