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French MPs to vote on ‘anti-separatism’ bill to battle Islamist radicalism


The French parliament on Tuesday votes on a bill to battle Islamist extremism, which the state argues is needed to bolster the secular system but critics say breaches religious freedom.
With an eye on 2022 elections, President Emmanuel Macron has championed the bill which seeks to tighten rules on issues ranging from religious teaching, online hate to polygamy.
It has been debated in a highly charged atmosphere in France after three attacks late last year by extremists including the beheading in October of teacher Samuel Paty, who had shown his pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him and his progeny.
The law is dubbed the anti-separatism bill as ministers fear Islamists are creating communities that reject France’s secular identity and laws, as well as its values such as equality between the sexes.
France, home to Europe’s largest Muslim community, is still shaken by the succession of massacres committed by terorrists from January 2015 that left hundreds dead.
The National Assembly lower house is expected to vote on the legislation in the afternoon after a total of 135 hours of debates that saw some 313 amendments adopted.
Macron’s ruling party has a large working majority, meaning the legislation is expected to pass, but the upper house Senate will also examine the draft legislation in the coming months and could amend it.

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