Sunday, 28 Feb 2021 - 16 of Adar, 5781

Lower house of French parliament approves law to fight Islamist extremism

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The bill was put forward by the French government following the October stabbing and beheading of a teacher Samuel Paty by an Islamist terrorist unhappy about the display of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a class on freedom of expression. Paty showed these images to his civics class while emphasising that students could choose not to look at them if they were offended.

France’s National Assembly, the lower house of the country’s parliament, has approved a law to fight Islamist extremism and separatism in the country, and to reinforce the Republican values.

“It’s an extremely strong secular offensive,” French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said about the bill, which was approved a 347-151 vote.

“It’s a tough text but necessary for the republic,” he added.

The text would significantly expand the government’s powers to close religious organisations and places of worship if they are found to air “theories or ideas” that “provoke hate or violence”.

The legislation offers protection to moderate community leaders who are in danger of being toppled by an extremist “putsch”. It will also require all associations to commit in writing to uphold “republican values”if they want to receive state subsidies.

The law will require associations to declare donations over €10,000 euros and have their accounts certified.

The law sets stricter criteria for authorising home schooling of children over three years old to prevent parents taking their children out of public schools and enrolling them in underground Islamist structures.

The bill was put forward by the French government following the October stabbing and beheading of a teacher Samuel Paty by an Islamist terrorist unhappy about the display of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a class on freedom of expression. Paty showed these images to his civics class while emphasising that students could choose not to look at them if they were offended.

French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed that France would never give up Enlightenment values such as the right to blaspheme. “He was killed because Islamists want to take our future,” Macron said at a memorial service for Paty. “They will never have it.”

France has witnessed a wave of jihadist attacks since 2015 that have killed more than 250 people.

17 people were killed over three days of attacks in January 2015, beginning with the massacre of 12 people at satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, which had published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. The assault was followed by the killing of a French policewoman and a hostage-taking at a Paris Jewish supermarket, in which four Jews were killed.

The text will be submitted to the Senate, the upper house of the parliament, where Macron’s party does not hold a majority.

 

President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party rallied around the law, with 347 MPs voting in favour, 151 against and 65 abstaining. The text will now be submitted to the upper house, the Senate, where Macron’s party does not hold a majority.

Islamists will ‘never have our future’

The bill was put forward after the October 16 stabbing and beheading of the teacher Samuel Paty by a Chechen Islamist militant unhappy about the display of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a class on freedom of expression. Paty showed these images to his civics class while emphasising that students could choose not to look at them if they were offended.

The gruesome murder of Paty sparked outrage across France – prompting Macron to crack down on Islamist extremism and violence in a country reeling from a wave of jihadist attacks since 2015 that have killed more than 250 people.

Seventeen people were killed over three days of attacks in January 2015, beginning with the massacre of 12 people at satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, which had published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. The assault was followed by the killing of a French policewoman and a hostage-taking at a Jewish supermarket, in which four French Jews were slaughtered.

In November 2015, a squad of jihadist killers carried out France’s deadliest peacetime atrocity, attacking the Stade de France stadium, bars and restaurants in central Paris and the Bataclan concert hall, killing 130 people.

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