Macron unveils draft law to tackle ‘radical Islamism’

Critics fear it could target all Muslims

President Emmanuel Macron will on Wednesday seek his Cabinet’s blessing for draft legislation combatting “radical Islamism” after a spate of attacks, which critics fear risks targeting all Muslims.

Mr. Macron argues the legislation is needed to shore up France’s staunchly secular system but the plan has further stirred up social tensions over the consequences for Europe’s largest Muslim community.

“The enemy of the Republic is a political ideology called radical Islamism, which aims to divide the French among themselves,” Prime Minister Jean Castex told Wednesday’s edition of Le Monde.

He argued that rather than targeting Muslims it aimed to “free Muslims from the growing grip of radical Islamism”.

The legislation will be discussed at a Cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace with Mr. Castex announcing the outcome in the early afternoon.

But the government’s staunch defence of the foundations of the French state that date back to the French Revolution has caused unease even among allies, with the U.S. envoy on international religious freedom saying he was concerned by the legislation.

“There can be constructive engagements that I think can be helpful and not harmful,” Ambassador Sam Brownback told reporters. “When you get heavy-handed, the situation can get worse,” he said.

‘Republican values’

The text was originally titled the “anti-separatism” bill, using a term Macron uses to describe ultra-conservative Muslims withdrawing from mainstream society.

Following criticism of that term, it is now called a “draft law to strengthen republican values”, mostly secularism and freedom of expression.

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