The French national assembly on Tuesday passed legislation to combat “Islamist extremism and separatism”, which the French government claims will put a leash on religious groups that undermine French republican and secular values.
However, critics of the French government say it restricts religious freedom and violates Article 18 (Right to freedom of thought, conscience and teaching, practice, worship and observance of one’s religion) and Article 19 (freedom to opinion and expression) of the United Nations declaration of human rights.
With an eye on 2022 general election, French President Emanuel Macron’s centrist party passionately supported the bill which won 347 votes in favour of it, 151 against and 65 abstaining. Supporters of the bill say it has been passed in response to the wave of attacks seen in France and also to crack down on “religious funding” from Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The law will require associations to declare donations over 10,000 euros and have their accounts certified.
France’s Muslim community, which is the largest Muslim community in Europe, has fears over the bill which specifically targets them and imposes restriction on every aspect of their life. It prevents families from giving Islamic education to children at home, which is a norm in Muslim homes around the world.
It also prohibits patients from choosing doctors based on gender. The bill gives French govt. the power to intervene and control finances of mosques and Muslim run non-governmental organisations and the bill also makes “secular education” compulsory for all Muslim homes.
Critics say the French government is forcing its version of secularism and liberalism on the minorities of France and not allowing them freedom of thought and expression.
Nearly 200 people protested in Paris on Sunday against the bill accusing it of “reinforcing discrimination against Muslims”.