Calling Islam in Crisis, Macron Reaps Criticism
In his long-awaited address on Friday, Macron insisted no concessions would be made in the new efforts to push religion out of education and the public sector in France.
“Islam is a religion that is experiencing a worldwide crisis right now, we don’t just see this in our country,” he said as quoted by Al Jazeera, Saturday (3/10/2020).
Suddenly Macron’s statement triggered a backlash from Muslim activists.
“Muslim repression has become a threat, now that is a promise. In the one-hour speech #Macron buried #laicite, strengthened the right wing, anti-Muslim left and threatened the lives of Muslim students by calling for drastic restrictions on home schooling despite the global pandemic, ”said Yasser Louati, a French Muslim activist.
A French academic, Rim-Sarah Alaoune, wrote on Twitter: “President Macron described Islam as ‘a religion that is experiencing a worldwide crisis.’ I don’t even know what to say. This statement is so stupid (sorry yes) that it doesn’t need to be. Further analysis. I will not hide that I am worried. There is no mention of white supremacy even though we are a country that exports the racist and white supremacist theory of the ‘great surrogate’ used by the terrorists who carried out the terrible massacre in #Christchurch. ”
Iyad el-Baghdadi, a writer and activist based in Norway, only writes on Twitter; “F *** you, @EmmanuelMacron.”
Macron announced that his government would submit a bill in December to strengthen the 1905 law that officially separated church and state in France.
These steps, said Macron, were aimed at tackling the problem of growing “radicalization” in France and increasing the country’s ability to live together.
“Secularism is the cement of French unity,” he insisted, but added that there was no point in stigmatizing all believing Muslims.
The law allows people to practice any religion they choose, Macron said, but outward displays of religious affiliation will be prohibited in schools and public services.
Wearing the headscarf is already prohibited in French schools and for civil servants in their workplaces.
In his speech, Macron also claimed he was trying to “free” Islam in France from foreign influence by increasing oversight of mosque financing.
There will also be closer scrutiny of schools and associations that exclusively serve religious communities.
France is once again evaluating its relationship with its Muslim minority, the largest in Europe.
Just last month, a French MP from the Macron La Republique En Marche party went on strike over the presence of a headscarf student union leader during a parliamentary inquiry.
The incident was preceded a week earlier by another polemic, which involved a French journalist retweeting a post by a young Muslim influencer about limited-budget cooking with the headline “September 11”, referring to the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center New York.
Macron made the speech one week after a man attacked two people with a butcher knife outside the former offices of Paris’ satirical Charlie Hebdo weekly, an attack the government condemned as an act of “Islamic terrorism”.
Staff at Charlie Hebdo were killed in January 2015 by gunmen in retaliation for a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad.
Members of the Muslim community in France have consistently condemned the act, describing it as contrary to Islamic teachings.