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French Draft Law Aimed To Counter Islamic Radicalism Strengthens Privacy on the Internet


In response to the recent attacks in Nice and Paris, the French cabinet launched a comprehensive legislative package against what is called Islamism.

Prime Minister Jean Castex informed the legislative package "Strengthening the Principles of the Republic" aims to put a stop to the dangerous ideology of radical Islamism. He emphasized that the more than 50 articles of the law were not directed against "the Muslim religion", but against extremist currents. If, for example, girls were deliberately kept away from school or sports clubs were used for religious indoctrination, the state would have to defend itself.

The government is reacting to the murder of the history teacher Samuel Paty near Paris, who had shown Mohammed cartoons in class. Before he was beheaded by an alleged Islamist in mid-October, Mr. Paty was threatened online, his name and school were also mentioned.


New offense, rule of "neutrality" expanded

The new law is now introducing a new offense in France that will be punishable with prison.  According to the draft, anyone who "puts the life of another person at risk by disseminating information about his private and family life or his job" will face a criminal trial. There is a risk of up to three years imprisonment and a fine of $72,363 or even higher penalties for violation of that law, which is aimed to protect especially against state officials, which in France include teachers.

In the future, in addition to state officials, private employees of the public service will also be subject to the principle of neutrality. According to Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, this means that "religious signs" such as a headscarf are forbidden for female bus drivers or that airport employees are not allowed to represent sectarian beliefs.

So-called "virginity certificates" are to be banned - certificates with which Muslim men attempted to have their marriage annulled because their wives allegedly lacked virginity. Doctors who issue such certificates face one-year imprisonment and a fine of $24,123. Polygamy and forced marriages should also be put more firmly in place. The marriage registrars should question the motivation of the spouse in case of doubt.

Communities in France must accept the values of the republic

Besides, prefects should be able to ban religiously motivated practices within 48 hours. Interior Minister Darmanin cited separate swimming pool times for women and men as an example: Such regulation is "incompatible with the values ​​of the republic," he emphasized.

Homeschooling for religious reasons should also be prohibited. Anyone who wants to teach their children at home must apply for a permit in the future. It is intended to strengthen compulsory schooling for all children aged three and over.

The main features of the planned law are part of the program of President Emmanuel Macron aimed to integrate Muslim communities in France.

The mosques should be free from foreign influence

Last but not least, the head of state wants to make the mosques in the country more independent of foreign influences, for example, from countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, or Morocco. Money inflows from these and other countries are now more strictly controlled. To this end, beneficiary mosques or Islamic associations must make donations over $16,081 more transparent in the future. The Turkish umbrella organization Ditib, which is also controversial in Germany because of its proximity to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is also likely to be affected.

With these measures, the French government is also responding to widespread fears in the population: According to a survey, 88 per cent expressed concern about Islamism, 58 per cent even "very concerned". The ongoing trial against those responsible for the attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo almost six years ago also recently drew attention to the issue.


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