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French National Assembly Backs Law to Combat Islamist Extremism


It bans so called “virginity certificates,” provided by some doctors for traditional religious marriages, and demands respect of the equality of men and women. Condoning terrorism becomes an offense that may lead to a ban on holding public office.

In the article that prompted the most virulent debate, and over 400 proposed amendments, it places severe limits on home-schooling without banning it, as originally proposed. Educating children at home is viewed by the government as a source of the “separatism” that undermines French values, as well as a means for conservative Muslim families to keep young girls from what they see as corrupting influences.

The bill was originally called the “anti-separatism” law, underscoring Mr. Macron’s conviction that every citizen must respect “the rules of the Republic because he or she is a citizen before being a believer or a nonbeliever.” It never mentions Islam or Islamism, a source of anger to right-wing parties.

“The target is missed because it is not named,” Philippe Bas, a senator for the Republicans told Le Figaro. “The target is Islamism which aims to impose its totalitarian law over the law of the Republic.”

The Socialist Party has deplored the choice of security measures rather than vastly expanded social programs to confront the rise of extremism in dismal suburbs where good schools and job opportunities are scarce.

For Ms. Le Pen’s National Rally, formerly the National Front, the legislation proved problematic. Its handful of representatives abstained in the final vote, having approved some of the articles and deplored others for not going far enough. Ms. Le Pen is maneuvering to look more presentable for an election next year in which polls suggest she will reach the second-round runoff and may even be elected.

Her efforts were not advanced, however, by a weak performance in a debate last week with Gérald Darmanin, the hard-line interior minister, who caught her getting statistics wildly wrong and suggested she had gone soft. “You need to start taking vitamins again, you are not tough enough, I find,” he said, as she looked on in painful bewilderment, having attempted a meandering explanation of why Islamism, an ideology she found hateful, had nothing to do with Islam, the religion, with which she had no quarrel.


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