France votes on anti-radicalism bill that worries Muslims

Paris: France’s National Assembly approved legislation designed mainly to counter a rise in Islamism in towns and cities which the government says threatens national unity.

The bill is part of broader French efforts to fight extremism in recent years that gained new urgency after a teacher was beheaded in October and other attacks.

President Emmanuel Macron says the efforts are also needed to protect French values such as gender equality and secularism from encroaching fundamentalism in some communities.

But many French Muslims say the draft law limits religious freedom and unfairly targets them, and say France already has enough laws to fight terrorist violence. Critics call the bill a political manoeuver by Macron to win support from conservative and far-right voters ahead of next year’s presidential election.

France’s Muslim population is estimated to number about five million people, many whose family origins lie in Algeria or other parts of its former empire.

The country has suffered a wave of Islamist militant attacks in recent years, and tackling religious extremism, French identity and domestic security will be big issues in next year’s presidential election.

Image courtesy of (Wikidata)

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