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Right-wing Senate examines anti-“separatism” bill

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                The senators begin, Tuesday, March 30, two weeks of divisive debates on the bill against "separatism" which aims to consolidate respect for republican principles, and already approved at first reading by the deputies.

                                    <p>Sailing, school at home ... The Senate dominated by the right-wing opposition is looking, Tuesday and for two weeks, on the bill on "separatism", which promises debates as passionate as the National Assembly.

“It is likely that we will not emerge unscathed from an immersion in such a subject”, fears the centrist Philippe Bonnecarrère.

More than 600 amendments were tabled for this text on “respect for the principles of the Republic” at first reading, as well as a socialist motion aimed at its outset rejection.

The text, which targets radical Islamism, provides for measures on the neutrality of the public service, the reinforced control of associations, better transparency of all cults and their funding, home education, or even the struggle. against certificates of virginity or polygamy.

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The President of the Senate, Gérard Larcher (LR), set himself as a guide “the spirit” of the speech delivered by Emmanuel Macron in Mureaux (Yvelines) in October 2020. The head of state then urged the “republican awakening “in the face of” Islamist separatism “.

In the Assembly, LR deputies voted almost unanimously against a “lukewarm” and “soft” bill, according to group boss Damien Abad.

In the Senate, the reception by the right is rather favorable to this text which “marks a necessary awareness”. “This law will give keys and tools to state services,” said LR co-rapporteur Jacqueline Eustache-Brinio. But “to fight against this scourge of Islamism and communitarianism, it will not be enough, the ramparts must be erected everywhere”.

The senatorial right has the advantage of numbers to be able to modify the text, but is not exempt from internal debates between supporters of a hardening of the provisions and supporters of more moderate positions.

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It will also endeavor to “reassure” the Christian leaders who fear that the text will “undermine the fundamental freedoms which are the freedom of worship, of association”.

“This text, this majority does not fight religions […] but the Islamist OPA “, had argued the Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin before the deputies.

“Freedom to teach”

On the left, the PS group judges that the bill has “still not clearly identified its subject” and deplores that “it does not deal with issues relating to social diversity”.

“The right has decided to reserve for the debate in the hemicycle its most radical positions”, forecasts Marie-Pierre de La Gontrie.

An amendment by the co-rapporteurs aiming to prohibit the wearing of the veil – and other ostentatious religious symbols – for people accompanying school trips was adopted in committee.

But the provision will be discussed again in session, in favor of LR amendments. The Senate has already voted in 2019 a bill to this effect by Jacqueline Eustache-Brinio.

As at the Palais Bourbon, home instruction promises to be another hotly debated component. “For the sake of clarity”, the senators deleted the article providing for its reinforced control because, according to the rapporteur of the Committee on Culture Stéphane Piednoir (LR), “it is a disproportionate attack on the freedom to teach”.

Opposed to the authorization regime that the executive wants to institute, they have re-established the current regime of simple authorization, while restricting it more.

Concerning the religious police, they reinstated article 35 of the law of 1905, deleted by the deputies, providing for a specific responsibility of the minister of religion which would encourage them not to respect the laws of the Republic. They have strengthened the penalties and completed the device to sanction calls to “exonerate themselves from the common rule”, taking up a proposal for a constitutional law previously voted by the upper house.

In favor of the prohibition of virginity certificates, the Law Commission has again created a specific offense criminalizing the practice of examinations “aimed at certifying the virginity” of a person, even with his consent.

The bill continues its parliamentary course in a context of crisis within the French Council of Muslim Worship (CFCM), a body that has become the privileged interlocutor of the public authorities.

The controversy raised last week by the financing by the green municipality of Strasbourg of the construction of a mosque could be invited into the discussions at the Luxembourg Palace.

With AFP


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