French lawmakers tackled a bill on Monday they hope will uproad radical Islam in the country, beliefs that authorities maintain are creeping into public services, associations, some schools and online with the goal of undermining national values.
The bill is broad and controversial, with some 1,700 proposed amendments, and it guarantees heated debate for the next two weeks in the lower house.
Opening the debate, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, the bill's sponsor, said the aim is to stop an Islamist hostile takeover targeting Muslims.
He stressed that we are not fighting against a religion, although some Muslims have voiced concern that it adds a new layer of stigmatisation for French Muslims. Other religions, from Buddhists to Catholics, have complained they also could suffer fallout from the text.
The bill reflects a priority for President Emmanuel Macron, who in an October speech painted a dark picture of what he dubbed separatism, a perverse version of Islam, France's No. 2 religion, quietly making inroads and creating a counter society.
Darmanin echoed the president in his opening remarks to lawmakers, saying Our country is suffering from a sickness of separatism, first and foremost an Islamist separatism that is like gangrene infecting our national unity.
Darmanin, a right-leaning member of Macron's centrist party, took up his mission to propose a law with zeal, writing a short book to be released in the next few days, Manifesto for Secularism a fundamental value of France that the bill he sponsored is meant to protect.
Multiple terrorist attacks in France by Islamist extremists provide a backdrop for the bill, even if recent attacks were committed by outsiders.
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