France, hit during the last decade by attacks perpetrated by French jihadists and alarmed by the existence of pockets of radicalization in its neighborhoods and cities, needed to arm itself against what the president, Emmanuel Macron, called “Islamist separatism.” The law adopted Tuesday by the National Assembly provides a partial answer to the problem. The proposal, which has yet to pass Senate scrutiny, suppresses harassment campaigns instigated by radicals such as the one that ended with the beheading of Professor Samuel Paty, allows greater control of ideology and foreign funding of mosques and NGOs, and it punishes sexist practices such as the documents that some doctors sign to certify a woman’s virginity.
The text, one of Macron’s last major legislative initiatives before the 2022 presidential elections, avoids naming any religion. Its official name is “law that reaffirms republican principles.” During the legislative process, the deputies have rejected measures such as the prohibition of the Islamic headscarf in universities, as it was not a question of stigmatizing a religion that has some six million faithful in France, nor its believers. The objective is to provide the State with tools against the Islamist nebula that encourages the segregation of a part of society.
The idea of attacking not only terrorism, but the breeding ground where it thrives, demands extreme care. Not all Muslims are Islamists, nor are all Islamists terrorists. Statements by policy makers such as Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin showing their displeasure with the sale of halal products in supermarkets contribute to the confusion. And they play the game both with Islamists, who denounce that the French Government is against all Muslims, and with those who, on the extreme right, do not distinguish between religion and terrorists inspired by it.
The law will not end the threat in France. But, if applied with all the necessary guarantees, it will help combat an obscurantist ideology that tries to jeopardize the republican and secular – and not exclusively French – principles of freedom and equality, principles that also protect citizens of Muslim confession. . It will be of little use, however, if it is not accompanied by an effort to end what the President of the Republic described in October as the other separatism: that of a state that for decades has concentrated the population of North African origin in peripheral neighborhoods. and that it has failed to promote economic and social mobility. This is another breeding ground for Islamist separatism and is the pending task for Macron for the rest of the presidential five-year period.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.