French assembly approves controversial ‘separatism’ bill
Draft law to be debated in Senate on March 30
France’s National Assembly approved a controversial bill Tuesday that has been criticized for targeting Muslims.
The draft law was approved with 347 lawmakers voting in favor, 151 against and 65 abstaining.
Known as the “separatism” bill, it was supported by President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling La Republique En Marche (LREM) party, the Democratic Movement (MoDem), the Agir party and the Union of Democrats and Independents (UDI), while the center-right Republicans (LR) and far left La France Insoumise (LFI) party opposed it.
Lawmakers from the center-left Socialist Party (PS) and French Communist Party (PCF) abstained from voting.
The LR reportedly opposed the bill for including “soft steps.” Bruno Retailleau, who serves as president of the group in the Senate, said in a statement that he wanted to include "Islamist separatism" and a ban on headscarves in public places in the bill.
The bill will be discussed in the Senate on March 30 and is expected to return to the National Assembly after a vote is held.
It was introduced by President Macron last year to fight so-called "Islamist separatism."
The bill is being criticized because it targets the Muslim community and imposes restrictions on almost every aspect of their lives.
It provides for intervening in mosques and the associations responsible for their administration as well as controlling the finances of associations and non-governmental organizations belonging to Muslims.
It also restricts education choices of the Muslim community by preventing families from giving children home education.
The bill also prohibits patients from choosing doctors based on gender for religious or other reasons and makes "secularism education" compulsory for all public officials.
*Writing by Sena Guler in Ankara