French Muslims concerned over new “separatism” bill
French Muslims are concerned over the government passing a long-anticipated ‘Separatism’ bill granting the government powers to ensure that groups do not adhere to an alternative French identity, tethered to religious or ethnic affiliation.
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The so-called “separatism” bill means to permanently ensure France will remain French, without additional cultural or ethnic identities attached.
Muslims in France denounce the vague term of "separatism", while warning that this can increase abuse against them.
The President of the French Council of Muslim Worship, Muhammed Moussaoui, said they would oppose any targeting of Muslims who practice their religion by respecting the laws.
The rector of the Lyon mosque, Kamel Kabtane, said he was worried about this climate of insecurity stressing that Muslims do not want to divide but instead, to be integrated. The bill prepared by the Macron administration would directly target Muslims under the name of “fight against political Islam,” he added.
During a speech in February, Macron stated that part of society "wants to develop a political project under the name of Islam" and criticized parents for refusing their daughters to go swimming.
For many, the proposed bill can only stigmatize France's largely moderate Muslim population, also the largest in Western Europe.
The proposed bill includes announced measures ending seconded foreign imams, and increasing the number of state imams trained in France. It also puts into effect strict oversight, scrutiny and control of foreign funding of places of worship, in order to block suspicious projects.
On September 7, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin and Citizenship Minister Marlene Schiappa confirmed the ‘separatism bill’ was being finalized and revealed more details of its workings.
The bill would also end the ELCO program, allowing for education and instruction in foreign languages without oversight of the Ministry of National Education. The move would impact at least 80,000 students.
French President Emanuel Macron is set to present the bill in early October, with much of its content still undetermined.