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Thursday, February 25, 2021

France votes on anti-radicalism bill that worries Muslims

Critics call the bill a political manoeuvre by President Emmanuel Macron to win support from conservative and far-right voters ahead of next year's presidential election.

By: AP | Paris |
Updated: February 16, 2021 3:22:58 pm
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a meeting via video-conference with leaders of the G5 Sahel Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021 in Paris. (AP)

France’s lower house of parliament is voting Tuesday on a bill that would strengthen government oversight of mosques and religious schools and crackdown on polygamy and forced marriage, among other measures aimed at rooting out Islamic radicalism.

The bill is part of broader French efforts to fight extremism in recent years that gained new urgency after a teacher was beheaded in October and other attacks. President Emmanuel Macron says the efforts are also needed to protect French values like gender equality and secularism from encroaching on fundamentalism in some communities.

But many French Muslims say the draft law limits religious freedom and unfairly targets them, and say France already has enough laws to fight terrorist violence. Critics call the bill a political manoeuvre by Macron to win support from conservative and far-right voters ahead of next year’s presidential election.

The bill is expected to win approval in the National Assembly, which is dominated by Macron’s centrist party, as well as the conservative-led Senate.

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