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France: Criticized over marginalizing Muslims, French bill adopted

26th Jul 2021
France: Criticized over marginalizing Muslims, French bill adopted

By Alaattin Dogru  and Esra Taskin

 

PARIS (AA): France has adopted a bill titled “reinforcing respect for the principles of the Republic,” criticized for marginalizing Muslims.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin announced Friday on Twitter that the parliament had adopted the bill.

“We give ourselves the means to fight against those who put forward religion to question the values of the Republic,” Darmanin added.

The bill, rejected by the Senate in its session on Tuesday, was voted on in the French National Assembly, which has the last word on the validity of a law. The bill was passed by 49 votes in favor versus 19 against.

The controversial anti-separatism bill in France limits the existence and rights of Muslims, a French Muslim human rights activist said on Sunday.

“The anti-separatism bill completely limits the right to organization and the existence of Muslims as people who have Islamic faith and are aware of their citizenship rights,” Yasser Louati told Anadolu Agency.

Emphasizing that the Paris administration is trying to criminalize Muslims who organize outside of groups it supports, Louati said this law could be applied to other minorities in the future.

Stressing that the myth that “France is a country of human rights” died years ago, Louati said: “There is state racism and Islamophobia in France. If this was not true, laws would not be enacted in this way against a community that makes up 9% to 11% of the country’s population. Yes, this law specifically targets Muslims, because the discussions were always about them.”

Meanwhile, right-wing parties announced that they would appeal against the law with the Constitutional Council, claiming it does not going after “Islamists” enough, while left-wing parties said they are preparing to do the same over its alleged violation of the Constitution.

French senators spew hatred against Muslims

Yasser Louati pointed out that after the death of George Floyd in the US, Muslims and suburban residents took action against systematic racism and police violence, and President Emmanuel Macron and Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin started using the term “separatism.”

He stated that, especially during the debates in the French Senate about the law, senators spewed hatred against Muslims.

Hoping that the bill passed in parliament will be brought before the State Council and the Constitutional Council, he said that those who created these institutions were not known as defenders of freedom.

“Right now, Muslims are worried because through this law, the state will try to control them and criminalize their actions. We saw that imams were expelled by the order of the interior minister,” he said.

Louati fears the French government will pass more Islamophobic legislation, as Muslim organizations in France fail to come together, adding that the “French Islamic Charter” was prepared by only some Muslim organizations.

New role for Muslims

Under this charter, Muslims are given a role which does not let them participate in public discussions or express their opinion, said Louati. If Muslims want to get rid of this controversial charter, they need to reorganize themselves to choose their own representatives, he added.

He said that if the state interferes in the affairs of Catholics or Jews, objections are raised that “you cannot interfere in a secular country.” However, those who represent Muslims cannot speak out against such interventions, asserted the activist.

“Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin wastes no time in spreading Islamophobic ideas and comments. While remaining silent on the far-right’s separatism, and the separatism of other religious communities that do not care about living together. He attacks Islam because no one resists him,” he added.

French Muslims should object to this law in France, he urged

Content of law

France, which has the largest Muslim population in Europe, has been criticized for interfering with the lives of Muslims with the law .

It contains measures to ensure the religious neutrality of public officials, while moving from a homeschooling system in which parents’ declaration is sufficient to one that requires authorities’ permission.

Besides, the text contains an array of articles, including on the fight against certificates of virginity, polygamy, and forced marriage, as well as others punishing online hate crimes, protecting public officials and teachers and mandating greater “transparency” in funding management.

France criticized by international groups, civil society

France has been criticized by international organizations and non-governmental organizations, especially the UN, for targeting and marginalizing Muslims with this law.

Since announced as a bill, attacks on mosques and masjids, including arson, have increased in the country.​​​​​​​

[Photo: French National Assembly Chamber. Photographer: Richard Ying and Tangui Morlier/Creative Commons]

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