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France's Macron issues 'republican values' ultimatum to Muslim leaders

  • Published at 09:47 am November 20th, 2020
French President Emmanuel Macron
File photo: French President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he delivers a speech during a press conference, as a part of his visit in Mulhouse on February 18, 2020 Reuters

The charter will state that Islam is a religion and not a political movement

French President Emmanuel Macron has asked Muslim leaders of France to accept a "charter of republican values" as part of a broad clampdown on radical Islam, reports BBC.

This followed a French bill on preventing radicalization, completed after the Islamist beheading of teacher Samuel Paty, makes it a crime to intimidate public servants on religious grounds, according to the text unveiled Wednesday.

President Macron issued a 15-day ultimatum for the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) to accept the charter.

The CFCM has agreed to create a National Council of Imams, which will reportedly issue imams with official accreditation which could be withdrawn, reports BBC.

The bill, which was seen by AFP, also makes it an offence to share the personal information of a person in a way that allows them to be identified or located by people who want to harm them.

The charter will state that Islam is a religion and not a political movement, while also prohibiting "foreign interference" in Muslim groups.

President Emmanuel Macron's government has clamped down on radical Islam following the gruesome murder of Paty, who was the target of a vicious online smear campaign for showing his students cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a class on free speech.

His murder sent shock waves through France, which has been repeatedly targeted by Islamist extremists since 2015, most of them French citizens.

A few weeks before Paty's death, Macron had already set out plans to tackle what he called the "Islamist separatism" in poor French neighbourhoods that aimed to create a "counter-society" where Islamic law prevailed.

As examples of the growing sectarianism, he cited children from ultraconservative Muslim families being taken out of school, and sporting and cultural associations being used to indoctrinate youth.

'Hands off my teacher' 

The bill drafted by Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin and Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti provides for each child to be given an ID number that would be used to ensure they are attending school.

"We must save our children from the clutches of the Islamists," Darmanin told Le Figaro newspaper on Wednesday.

The draft law also cracks down on online hate speech of the kind suffered by Paty by allowing for suspects to be summarily tried.

"This law is, 'hands off my teacher, hands off the values of the republic'," Dupond-Moretti told RTL radio.

NGOs and charities suspected of being infiltrated by radical Islamists are also in the government's sights.

The bill, which will be presented in cabinet on December 9, stipulates that any association that seeks public funding must agree to "respect the principles and values of the republic" and return the money if found to have flouted the rules.

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