The French senate has passed a bill that has been termed ‘anti-separatism’ bill. However, critics and Frances Muslim population say that the purpose of the bill is to legalize islamophobia. The government claims that the objective of the new legislation is apparently to curb hate speech and restrict ‘Islamist separatism’.
Soon after the Charlie Hebdo attack and the beheading of the high school teacher Samuel paty, the French president Emanuel Macron in a high-profile speech stated “Islam is a religion which is experiencing a crisis today, all over the world”, and there was a need to “free Islam in France from foreign influences”. He went on to say “what we have to tackle is “Islamist separatism”.
The bill seeks to check and restrain online hate speech under a supposed “separatism offense” and any person in violation of it would be Imprisoned for over 3 years and fined over $55,000 (₹40,35,792).
All forms of homeschooling will be authorized by the state rather than be self-declared. Over 62,000 home-schooled children will be affected.
Though polygamy is banned in France by existing various legislation, the bill aims to put a ban on polygamy, forced marriages and issuing of virginity certificates.
Funding and donations to religious organisations will be monitored and policed. There will be strict financial control over funds to religious organisations. The government has already closed down many Muslim associations and mosques for having “radical links”, which they have denied.
The legislation prohibits the Wearing of hijab prior to the age of 18 and restricts mothers with Hijabs from accompanying their children to schools.
Rim-Sarah Alouane says:
“Laicite (Secularism) is a great concept in itself. The state remains neutral. The people working for the state (Civil servants) remain neutral, the people however are not neutral. From a legal tool that was aimed to protect religious freedom, it became a tool to target religious visibility”
Amnesty international has expressed concern over the ‘anti-speratism bill’
“This proposed law is wide open to abuse, and a threat to the very freedoms the French authorities claim to stand for. Time and again the French authorities have used the vague and ill-defined concept of ‘radicalization’ to justify the imposition of measures without valid grounds”.
Muslim community leaders in France claim that the bill is a blatant attack on their freedom and rights. Over 5.7 million Muslims reside in France, the largest Muslim community in Europe at large. The approval of this legislation will have drastic consequences for the Muslims in France and will give rise to the already existing hatred and Islamophobia.
The bill has been approved by the senate committee and is yet to be passed by the National Assembly of French parliament. Considering the fact that France will be heading for elections in 2022, Macron seeks to gain the support of the left and the far right by pushing forward this bill. John Bowen says “It’s actually a portion of the left that which tends to be the strictest about secularism. This bill could grab some secularist and far right support”.