The murmuring of the international media claiming France is at war with Muslims- is becoming apparent with time. Stigmatizing a population of 5 million that comprises 9% of the French population continues as a new bill raised in the parliament by Republican MP Guillaume Peltier. The bill proposes to set up camps for detaining watchlisted citizens who are considered extremist. These “extremist” citizens do not have to be proven extremist by the activities they commit; a mere consideration of them being “extremist” will be sufficient to send them to captivity.
The bill came after the unveiling of a widely controversial “separatism” bill a week ago. The bill awaiting parliamentary debate on January 2021 involves banning mosque attendance for certain suspected people, empowering local authorities to shut down mosques temporarily, and limiting foreign donations for mosques to “outlaw Islamist separatists”. Concern has been raised by rights organizations that the bill holds a discriminative position against Muslims.
The latest proposed bill by Peltier again raises concern about labeling Muslims as “radicals” whose view is different from the government. The former extremist far-right party “National Rally” member also mentioned about 22,000 people who are under surveillance for suspected radicalism. His speech at the parliament made the doubt clear that the proposed bill will target Muslims- as international media claims.
But Muslims are not newly enlisted members in the surveillance list. 76 mosques will be under monitoring and control of the French government- a declaration came earlier this month by the French interior minister Gerald Darmanin.
It is uncertain when the newly proposed bill will be debated or upgraded to a law. However, the repeated stance against Muslims in France has gone beyond political, attacking their basic rights- which received international condemnation. Najat Benali, Secretary-General of the Coordination of Muslim Associations in Paris, says “We feel that the decisions and plans (by the government) are off the mark”. Following the shock Muslims are bearing these days by the government decisions she adds, “Islam is the daily obsession of some politicians, elected officials, and media outlets for whom we are their main business.” Sam Brownback, the US envoy for religious freedom, condemns the french government’s restraining act of personal freedom.
France underwent several attacks this year after the beheading of a 47-year-old history teacher who showed a derogatory cartoon of Islam’s respected prophet. The tension with the Muslim community further escalated with the French president’s disrespectful comments on Islam and Muslims. Experts say constructive dialogue from both sides can resolve the ongoing crisis.