The new French Prime Minister, Jean Castex, has promised to be “uncompromising” in the defense of France’s official secularism, promising to fight “radical Islamism in all its forms” as “an absolute priority”.
Unveiling a new government policy in Paris on Wednesday, Castex told the National Assembly that the French Republic was “shaken to its foundations” by “the coalition of its enemies – terrorists, conspiracy theorists, separatists and communitarians”.
Castex, a center-right provincial mayor who graduated from the National Elite School of Administration, said a new law to fight “separatism” would be introduced after the summer vacation.
It would aim to “prevent certain groups from closing around ethnic or religious identities,” he said.
French President Emmanuel Macron also recently warned of takeover of anti-racist movements by “separatists” after protests against alleged police violence and racism in Paris – although the president did not say what ‘he meant by that term.
Some members of the Muslim minority in France believe that the official secularism of the country is mainly brandished against them, although Macron himself has condemned the divergent approaches.
Castex also drew a hard line on violence during protests and petty crime, saying the police would get the resources they needed.
Local judges will be appointed to ensure that “everyday anti-social behavior” is punished quickly, he said.
|France, laïcité et paranoïa du hijab | UpFront (functionality)|
“Specifically target Muslims”
Yasser Louati, head of the French Committee on Justice and Freedoms for All, told Al Jazeera that Castex’s use of the term “separatism” is “heavily accused and specifically targets Muslims whose recent mobilizations against racism and the ‘Islamophobia irritates the dominant and conservative segment of French society’.
“The recent use of the term” separatism “by Emmanuel Macron marks a new escalation in state-sponsored Islamophobia in that it perpetuates the fantasy of an internal enemy, in the same way that France has done with Jews in the past, “said Louati.
“There are no calls for secession, at least not from Muslims. But if the government interprets calls for equality as calls for separatism, this further exposes the hypocrisy of French institutions that wind up under the banner of human rights and a colorblind person. republic while calling [for] more violent repression against minorities. ”
Human rights groups previously condemned France for conducting discriminatory raids and home arrests against Muslims after declaring a state of emergency in November 2015.
“The state of emergency which affected more than 5,000 Muslim homes, businesses and places of worship has become permanent, and I fear that the end of the summer will be violent when the government returns to power,” said Louati.
Castex also said he took office at “a very special time” in the history of France after the COVID-19 epidemic caused France “one of the most serious crises it has known ”.
He said he would meet with unions and employers on Friday to agree on how to tackle “all the issues that are on the table for the weeks and months to come, starting with the restart plan.” [the]
The assembly approved the speech of Castex by a large majority of 345 votes against 177 and 43 abstentions.
With the report by Mersiha Gadzo in Toronto, Canada.