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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/26/21

French parliament approves bill to tighten control of mosques

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After months of wrangling the French parliament passes a draconian piece of legislation that many see as targeting the county's Muslim community.

The French National Assembly on July 23 approved the controversial "anti-separatism" bill despite strong criticisms from parliamentarians from the Left and the Right. The government argued the legislation was needed to bolster France's secular system, but critics say it breaches religious freedom.

The Wall Street Journal said the bill aims to strengthen government oversight of mosques and other religious organizations and counter the influence of Islamist movements that French President Emmanuel Macron says are undermining the country's secular values.

Obviously, to avoid the accusation of Islamophobia, the bill does not mention by name Islam or Muslims but, as Emmanuel Macron stated when he announced the reform, "what we need to tackle is Islamist Separatism", a strong indicator if one was needed that the bill is aimed explicitly at the Muslim community.

After a seven-month debate - andthe textgoing back and forth between France's lower house, the National Assembly, and the Senate - the anti-separatist billwas approved by 49 votes to 19 with five abstentions.

France's main opposition parties, including the Socialists (PS) and the centre-right Les Re'publicains, along with the French Communist Party, voted against the bill for different reasons.

Only three parties in the National Assembly - the ruling La Re'publique en marche (LREM) party and its two allies - voted for the law.

The adoption of the law was preceded by a motionof far-left leader Jean-Luc Me'lenchon, who attempted to reject it, calling it "anti-Republican" and "anti-Muslim." But his proposal was rejected with 55 against and only 12 in favor. The far-right National Rally, led by Marine Le Pen, abstained from the vote.

Tellingly, the RFI quoted analysts as saying that Macron, who came to power in 2017 as a centrist reformer, has noticeably tacked to the right over the last months as he scents that his 2022 presidential reelection battle will come down to a run-off duel with the far-right Le Pen.

The bill provides for intervening in mosques and the associations responsible for their administration as well as controlling the finances of associations and nongovernmental organizations belonging to Muslims. It also prohibits patients from choosing doctors based on gender for religious or other reasons and makes "secularism education" compulsory for all public officials.

Imam in France fired over verses recited during Eid prayers

Not surprisingly, as the French parliament passed the controversial law to targets Muslims, an imam of a mosque in France's Loire region was fired for verses and hadiths he recited during his Eid al-Adha prayer sermon that were considered "contrary to the values of the Republic" by Interior Minister Gerald Darmain, Anadolu Agency reported Saturday.

Ahamada, the imam of the Great Mosque of Saint-Chamond, who is of Comoros origin, shared a hadith and Surah Ahzab verses addressing the wives of the Prophet Muhammad in his sermon.

After Isabelle Surply, a member of the Municipal Council of the Republican Party, shared a video of the sermon online, Darmanin asked the Loire Governor's Office to dismiss the imam and ensure that his residence permit is not renewed, on the grounds that "he finds these statements unacceptable" and "sees them against gender equality."

Imam Mahdi, whose criticism of the dressing style of some Muslim women in a sermon he gave on June 4 at the Gennevilliers Mosque in the province of Hauts-de-Seine was also terminated by Darmanin's order.

The interior minister also asked the governor to intervene and to suspend the mosque's activities if a similar sermon is repeated, using the new tools allowed by a law "to strengthen respect for the principles of the Republic," which rights groups say risks discrimination.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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