The government has finalized its bill aimed at combating radical Islam and “separatism” by supplementing it with provisions against online hatred, announced by Emmanuel Macron after the assassination of teacher Samuel Paty who turned the country upside down. This text does not use the term “separatism” used by the Head of State during his speech on October 2 in Mureaux (Yvelines), where he called for “attacking Islamist separatism”. Nor that of “secularism”. Soberly, it is called “bill reinforcing republican principles”.
As desired by the Head of State, the bill creates an offense repressing hatred online and specific sanctions for pressure exerted on state agents or elected officials. Prior to his assassination on October 16 by a young man of Chechen descent, Samuel Paty was harassed online for showing cartoons of Muhammad during a free speech class. Eric Dupond-Moretti, the Minister of Justice, greeted in the Figaro “Two major changes to the Criminal Code”. He also confirmed the creation “at the Paris prosecutor’s office, of a center for judges specially dedicated to the fight against online hatred”.
Give the “means to act” to the Republic
In the explanatory memorandum, the drafters of the law explain that “in the face of radical Islamism, in the face of all separatism, it is clear that our legal arsenal is in part powerless” and that “the Republic has no not enough means to act against those who want to destabilize it ”. It is a question of “putting an end to the powerlessness in the face of what abuses national cohesion and fraternity (…) and flouts the minimum requirements of life in society and of consolidating republican principles”, they write.
On another aspect, the text intends to “guarantee the transparency of the conditions of the exercise of worship” by modifying the law of 1905 of separation of the Churches and the State as regards the financing of the religious associations for more transparency. Foreign donations exceeding 10,000 euros will thus be subject to a declaration of resources. A so-called “anti-putsch” provision is also planned to prevent any takeover of a mosque by extremists. Another article provides that a ban on appearing in places of worship “may be pronounced by the judge (…) in the event of a conviction for provocation to acts of terrorism or incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence”.
An education component also aims to fight against clandestine associative schools and puts an end to home schooling for all children from 3 years old, with some exceptions. It strengthens the supervision of schools outside the contract, in particular by introducing “an administrative closure regime”. The text also strengthens the powers of the prefects who may oppose the payment of public subsidies to associations which do not “respect the values of the Republic”. Finally, other provisions of this text aim to strengthen equal rights for women.