The Stream

Is France legalising Islamophobia?

On Thursday, April 15, 2021 at 19:30 GMT:
As Ramadan begins this week, many Muslims in France are bracing themselves for the passage of a controversial new law.

Recently approved by the Senate, the “anti-separatism” bill aims to stop radicalisation. It doesn’t name any specific religion, but includes provisions that critics say single out France’s six million Muslims. If passed, the government would have new powers to close places of worship that get foreign funding and/or preach certain ideologies.

Legislators are also proposing banning minors from wearing “conspicuous” religious clothing in public – which would prevent Muslim women under the age of 18 years old from wearing hijab. The move has prompted a furious global online response and the revival of hashtag campaigns including #BoycottFrance and #HandsOffMyHijab.

Rights groups have also expressed concern about how the bill would affect civil liberties. Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s Europe Researcher, recently said: “Time and again we have seen the French authorities use the vague and ill-defined concept of ‘radicalisation’ or ‘radical Islam’ to justify the imposition of measures without valid grounds… This stigmatisation must end.”

Home to Western Europe’s largest Muslim population, France has struggled for decades to integrate the community, which regularly faces social and economic discrimination.

The new law comes on the heels of last year’s beheading of a history teacher who had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to his class. More than 260 people have died in attacks in France since 2015, and pressure is growing on President Emmanuel Macron to act. Macron is up for re-election next year, and his opponents have vowed to keep Islam and immigration at the top of the agenda.

In this episode of The Stream we ask, is France legalising Islamophobia? Join the conversation.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:

Marco Perolini, @esteban80paris
Europe Researcher, Amnesty International

Yasser Louati, @yasserlouati
Human rights activist

Myriam Francois, @MyriamFrancoisC