The French parliament’s lower house has overwhelmingly approved a bill that would strengthen oversight of mosques, Muslim schools and Muslim sports clubs.
Muslims in France are saying the bill targets their freedom and their practice of Islam. Critics also see the proposed law as an attempt by President Emmanuel Macron to strengthen his waning grip on power.
They say it is a ploy to lure the right-wing and extremists to support Macron ahead of next year’s presidential elections.
The bill passed 347-151, with 65 abstentions.
The beheading of a French teacher last year by a Russian Muslim and a series of terror attacks in the country has led Macron to take extreme measures.
Activists rallied Sunday in Paris to demand that the French government abandon the bill aimed at rooting out Islamist extremism.
The protesters say the bill could trample on religious freedom and make all Muslims into potential suspects.
But Macron is not letting anyone stop him from chewing on his best bet to win votes and to curb the rise of both Muslim radicalism and French extreme-right politicians.
These are the two threats that could sink Macron’s chances in next years elections.
Macron’s government says the bill is needed to protect French values like gender equality and secularism, and to prevent radical ideas from taking root and inspiring violence.
Some Muslims and socialists say the bill will force values on people and this is not a very French way of doing things.
Nevertheless, we expect some scathing debates when the bill is sent to the legislative assembly for debate.
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