On October 2, President Emmanuel Macron delivered a ‘Fight Against Separatism’ speech to the French parliament, announcing stricter measures to crack down on the growing influence of what he called ‘radical Islamism’ among France’s Muslim minority,proportionally the largest in Western Europe. This ideology, he said, has “a proclaimed, publicised desire, a systematic way of organising things to contravene the Republic’s laws and create a parallel order, establish other values, develop another way of organising society which is initially separatist, but whose ultimate goal is to take over [the Republic] completely.”
Macron’s proposals include abolishing home-schooling, closing down independent schools, devoting more resources to policing and courts, bringing community language teaching under the control of the state, restoring policing in Muslim-majority zones, which he acknowledges has been let slide, reversing ghettoisation, preventing radical takeovers of Muslim organisations, and rolling back sharia creep, such as the public cafeterias which now offer only halal-compliant menus, and the separation of sexes in public swimming pools.
|Macron’s proposals include restoring policing in Muslim-majority zones annd rolling back sharia creep.|
One of the examples Macron gave is that the use of sub-contractors to deliver public services has led to sharia restrictions being imposed on the public against government policy. For example, sub-contracted Muslim bus inspectors on public buses have been refusing admission to women if their clothing does not meet their sharia-informed expectations. Macron calls such practices “forced radicalisation.” Another proposal is that recipients of government grants will be required to sign up to secularism contracts.
The most ambitious feature of Macron’s October 2 speech is his plan to change the way Islam is organised in France, making it more compatible with the Republic’s values. Whilst conceding that “it is not the state’s job to structure Islam,” Macron wants the state to help build a Muslim-led training body, funded by a tax on pilgrims to Mecca, which will allow France to establish “a form of Islam in our country that is compatible with Enlightenment values.” This, he hopes, will lead to an Islam which “can peacefully coexist with the Republic, respecting all the rules of separation [of religion and state] and calming all voices.” In essence he wants Muslim citizens to be French first, and followers of Islam second.
Macron intends to achieve this by two means. One is to cut back foreign influence, by closer regulation of foreign funding and ending the importation of imams from other countries. At present around 300 imams move to France each year from Turkey, Morocco and Algeria. The other means is to set up an institute to train French Muslims as clerics inside France, under the supervision of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM). These measures, Macron hopes, will mould French Muslims into loyal republicans.