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France's top court approves controversial ‘anti-separatism’ law

Law approved with exception of 2 articles by Constitutional Council, despite charges that it singles out Muslims

Alaattin Dogru   | 13.08.2021
France's top court approves controversial ‘anti-separatism’ law

PARIS

France’s highest constitutional authority on Friday approved a controversial “anti-separatism” law that has been criticized for singling out Muslims, striking down just two of its articles.

The bill was brought to the Constitutional Council by 60 deputies (of 577 total) and 60 senators (of 348), said a council statement.

The council rejected Article 16 of the law on suspending the activities of associations, saying that as the process could take six months, that this would violate freedom of association.

It also rejected Article 26 on granting or withdrawing residence permits to foreign nationals, saying this was contrary to the principles of the republic.

The other articles of the controversial bill were approved.

Anti-separatism law

The National Assembly passed the bill last month, despite strong criticism from both rightist and leftist lawmakers. The government says the legislation is meant to bolster France's secular system, but critics say it limits religious freedom and marginalizes Muslims.

The bill has been criticized for targeting France's Muslim community – at some 3.35 million, the largest in Europe – and imposing restrictions on many aspects of its members' lives.

The law allows officials to intervene in mosques and associations responsible for their administration, as well as control the finances of associations and NGOs belonging to Muslims.

It also restricts the educational choices of Muslims by making home schooling subject to official permission.

Under the law, patients are prohibited from choosing their doctors based on gender for religious or other reasons, and "secularism education" was made compulsory for all civil servants.

France has been criticized by international organizations and NGOs, especially the UN, for targeting and marginalizing Muslims with the law.

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