France: controversial law against Islamism

The French government has presented the parliament with another controversial draft law. Officially named the draft bill "reinforcing Republican Principles", it takes aim at radical Islam in particular. The proposed legislation foresees restrictions on home schooling and imam training in the country and more stringent monitoring of foreign payments to associations, as well as tougher penalties for hate speech and doxing. The press is critical of this approach for various reasons.

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Adevărul (RO) /

Naive and misguided

Adevărul commentator Iulian Chifu can understand why the draft law is meeting with resistance in the Muslim community:

“The idea that it's possible to combat a deep-seated social phenomenon with laws, prohibitions and sanctions is glaring proof of amateurism and a lack of ideas. ... Social phenomena are not countered with laws, but by addressing their socio-economic causes. It's the non-acceptance and non-integration of Muslim communities in French society that has pushed Muslims and immigrants to create their own rules and survival techniques on the fringes of legality or beyond, and thus paved the way for violent criminals, terrorism and confrontation.”

El País (ES) /

Law doesn't target the perpetrator profile

This law will be of little use in the fight against terrorism, political scientist Olivier Roy concludes in El País:

“The law aims to ban home schooling and imposes controls on religious private schools. It aims to ban polygamy and certificates of virginity. ... If these measures had been passed 20 years ago, would they have prevented any terrorist attacks? Going by the trajectory of those involved, the answer is no. All those who have carried out attacks in France went to state schools. None of them were home-schooled or came from a polygamous family. As for the 'certificates of virginity', I see no connection with terrorism there. The radicalised young women (whose numbers have been increasing since 2012) are never paragons of virtue.”

Valeurs actuelles (FR) /

Throwing the baby out with the bathwater

The law should focus on Islamism instead of restricting everyone's freedoms, writes Evangelical pastor and mediator Saïd Oujibou in the right-wing weekly Valeurs actuelles:

“It is legitimate, necessary and forward-looking of the government to seek to curb 'radical political Islamism' and the violence it feeds and triggers. It would be dangerous, however, to sacrifice the balance between religious freedom and state secularity which we have struggled so hard to achieve in the course of our history. ... The current bill raises concerns about the freedom of assembly, expression and education which could seriously affect the health of our society. What we must all protect together in the context of radicalism and terrorism is our sense of freedom.”