France’s Macron details plan targeting Islamist separatism

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Paris:  President Emmanuel Macron, trying to rid France of what authorities say is a ‘parallel society’ of radical Muslims thriving outside the values of the nation, is laying the groundwork Friday for a proposed law aimed at helping remedy the phenomenon.

Macron has coined the term “separatism” to describe the underworld that thrives in some neighbourhoods around France where Muslims with a radical vision of their religion take control of the local population to inculcate their beliefs.

Friday’s speech comes while a trial is underway in Paris over the deadly January 2015 attacks on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket by French-born Islamic extremists. Last week, a man from Pakistan stabbed two people near Charlie Hebdo’s former offices in anger over its publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

Among the goals of the proposed law is strengthening public services, better controlling local associations and bringing clarity to the financing of religious organisations, officials say.

It is meant to be aimed at all kinds of “separatism” but is expected to focus on Islamism, raising concerns among some in France’s largely moderate Muslim community and some on the left that it will further stigmatise the country’s No. 2 religion.

Macron’s speech is being delivered in Les Mureaux, a suburb west of Paris where the mayor has worked to help Muslims not to fall under the hold of those practicing and preaching a radical brand of Islam, which French authorities consider a threat to the nation.

The issue is particularly sensitive in a country strongly attached to secularism and a 1905 law separating church and state.

The law is expected to go before parliament for debate in the first part of next year.

(AP)

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