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France Unveils Draft Law to Fight Islamist Radical 'Enemy'

File photo of French President Emmanuel Macron.

File photo of French President Emmanuel Macron.

Parliament is expected to open what is likely to be a lively debate on the draft law in the months ahead. The measure, long in the making and refined until days before its presentation, has gone through various name changes and is now known by the delicate title Supporting Republican Principles.

A draft law aimed at arming France against Islamist radicalism was unveiled Wednesday, a measure promoted by President Emmanuel Macron to rout out what he calls separatists undermining the nation.

Parliament is expected to open what is likely to be a lively debate on the draft law in the months ahead. The measure, long in the making and refined until days before its presentation, has gone through various name changes and is now known by the delicate title Supporting Republican Principles.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said those whose project is to divide and spread hate and violence are at the center of separatism.

Separatism is especially dangerous because it is the manifestation of a conscious, theorized, political-religious project with an ambition to make religious norms predominate over the law, he said at a news conference.

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In an interview with the newspaper Le Monde he said the nature of a law is long-term and it would apply to any political ideology that threatens French values, even if today it is radical Islamism that we try by all means to fight.

Castex and others insist that neither Islam as a religion nor regular Muslims are targeted by the draft law. Neither is named in the text made up of about 50 articles aimed at enabling better oversight of mosques, associations, public services and schools. The aim is to reduce the space where radicals can operate and ensure that French values, including secularism, are guaranteed.

Among notable measures is making school obligatory from age 3 with the ability to opt out in favor of home schooling for special cases only. The measure is aimed at ending so-called clandestine schools run by fundamentalists with their own agenda.

Another article encourages mosques to register as places of worship, so as to better identify them. Many of the nations more than 2,600 mosques currently operate under rules for associations. Foreign funding for mosques, while not forbidden, would have to be declared if more than 10,000 euros.

The draft law would make it a crime punishable by fines and up to one year in prison for a doctor to provide a young woman with virginity certificates, sometimes demanded ahead of marriage.

To do away with forced marriages, a measure requires the couple to meet separately for an interview with an official when there is a doubt about free consent. If the doubt persists, the official must take the issue to a prosecutor who could forbid the marriage.

Those practicing polygamy would be forbidden French residence cards.

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first published:December 09, 2020, 20:45 IST