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February 17, 2021 10:05 am

French Lawmakers Pass Bill to Combat Islamist Extremism, Separatism

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French President Emmanuel Macron speaks as he meets with his Moldovan counterpart Maia Sandu (nos seen) at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, February 4, 2021. Photo: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier – France’s National Assembly passed a bill on Tuesday trumpeted by President Emmanuel Macron as a means to address the problem of Islamist extremism and separatism.

“It’s an extremely strong secular offensive,” French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told RTL radio about the bill, which the country’s lower house of parliament passed by a 347-151 vote.

“It’s a tough text … but necessary for the republic,” added Darmanin in the interview, cited by France 24.

The bill will now be sent to the upper chamber, the Senate, where, unlike the case of the National Assembly, Macron’s party—La République En Marche!—does not have a majority.

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The more than 70 separate articles of the bill address issues such as foreign funding of the country’s mosques, and gives more power to the state to close down places of worship with extremist imams and schools with radical curricula.

In early October, Macron unveiled a plan to rid France of the “parallel society” of separatist, radical Islamists whom he said had taken control of many neighborhoods.

Days later, a terrorist of Chechen origin beheaded Samuel Paty, a teacher at a middle school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, for having used the issue of the Muhammad cartoons in the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and subsequent massacre to discuss freedom of speech.

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