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French MPs to Vote on Controversial ‘Anti-Separatism’ Bill | Political news

The French National Assembly should adopt the disputed legislation and send it back to the Senate.

After weeks of debate, the lower house of the French parliament will vote on a so-called “anti-separatism” bill presented by the government of President Emmanuel Macron.

Supporters say controversial legislation is needed to tackle what they call “Islamist separatism” and strengthen France’s secular system, but critics, including prominent human rights groups, argue that ‘it violates religious freedom and unfairly targets the Muslim minority population of 5.7 million people.

French lawmakers are expected to approve the bill in Tuesday afternoon’s vote in the National Assembly, dominated by Macron’s centrist party La République en Marche (LREM).

The vote follows 135 hours of debate which saw some 313 amendments added to the 51 articles of the bill.

The bill will then go to the upper house, the Conservative-led Senate, which has the power to amend the proposal but is expected to give the green light.

If it removes the two legislative obstacles, the bill will be passed within months.

The law would strengthen government surveillance of mosques and religious schools and crack down on polygamy and forced marriage, among other measures.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said on Saturday after the final debate on the bill that he “provides concrete answers to the development of radical Islam, an ideology hostile to the principles and values ​​on which the Republic is founded “.

The legislation was debated in a very busy atmosphere in France after three terrorist attacks late last year, including the beheading on October 16 of Professor Samuel Paty, who had shown his students caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad during a course on freedom of expression.

French lawmakers are expected to approve the legislation in Tuesday afternoon’s vote in the National Assembly, dominated by Macron’s LREM party [Ludovic Marin/Reuters]

The law does not specifically mention the word Islam, but many French Muslims say it will limit their freedoms and discriminate against the Muslim minority, the largest in Europe.

Critics also argued that the bill was a political maneuver by Macron to gain the support of conservative and far-right voters ahead of next year’s presidential election, which could see him again challenged by Marine. Le Pen, the far-right leader of the National Rally.

In the 2017 presidential election, Le Pen won against other opponents to qualify for a second round, but ultimately lost his chance to enter the Elysee Palace in favor of Macron.

In a speech announcing the bill on October 2 last year, Macron said Islam was a religion “in crisis” in the world.

The French president’s remarks on Islam angered the Muslim world, with millions calling for a boycott of French goods as they took to the streets to protest against France.

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