French Senate approves amendment to ban prayers in university corridors


The proposal, which is part of an “anti-separatism” bill introduced by President Emmanuel Macron that targets the Muslim community, follows an amendment that will ban girls under 18 from wearing the hijab in indoor spaces. public.

Protesters hold up a banner during a demonstration against a bill labeled “anti-separatism” and Islamophobia in Paris on March 21, 2021. (AFP)

The French Senate has approved an additional ban on religious practices, this time praying in university halls, as part of a controversial “separatism bill” widely seen as targeting French Muslims.

The bill on the “principles of the Republic” is awaiting approval by the National Assembly before becoming law.

Discussing the bill, which has been criticized for alienating Muslims, the center-right Les Républicains (LR) party proposed adding a clause banning prayers in college halls as well as religious activities that could hamper activities. educational.

Although the senators of the Left Party and the Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer opposed the proposal, it was accepted thanks to the votes of the right-wing senators.

On February 16, the French National Assembly approved the bill which was then sent to the Senate for debate on March 30. It returns to the National Assembly after the vote of the Senate.

READ MORE: Demonstration in the French capital against the anti-Muslim bill

Religious intervention

It was introduced by President Emmanuel Macron last year to fight so-called “Islamist separatism”.

The bill is criticized for targeting the Muslim community and imposing restrictions on almost every aspect of their lives.

It plans to intervene in mosques and associations responsible for their administration as well as to control the finances of associations and non-governmental organizations belonging to Muslims.

It also restricts the educational choices of the Muslim community by preventing families from giving children a home education.

The bill also prohibits patients from choosing doctors based on their sex for religious or other reasons and makes “secular education” compulsory for all public officials.

READ MORE: How France’s Separatism Law Affects Working Class Muslim Women

Counter-approach of the Minister

France’s interior minister previously criticized two legislative amendments passed by lawmakers last week banning parents from wearing visible religious symbols while accompanying their children on school trips and allowing public swimming pools to ban swimsuits. ” burkini “.

Gerald Darmanin said the measures, approved by senators, amounted to “a suppression of religious expression”.

The “Republican Values” bill is currently under discussion in the upper house, which also approved a third amendment prohibiting underage girls from concealing their faces or wearing religious symbols in public places.

Although the text of the bill does not specifically mention the Islamic veil, the controversial issue of prohibiting mothers who voluntarily accompany their children’s school trips from wearing the garment has already been raised in the Senate three times since 2019 and rejected every time.

Right-wing Senator Max Brisson of Les Républicains tabled the amendment, arguing that school trips are educational and that neutrality should be imposed on all who participate, including parents.

Government representative, Darmanin warned the Chamber to “beware of this excessive measure which would tip over [Muslims] on the wrong side. “

“I find it quite paradoxical that we absolutely want to suppress all religious expression of the parents”, he declared, supported by the senator of the Socialist Party Didier Marie, who considered that the amendment would be “dangerous” to suggest a link causality between the veil, political Islam, radicalism, separatism and even terrorism.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies

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