When a religion polarizes society

When a religion polarizes society

Islamic headscarf of a student's mother; an assassination attempt by a radicalized Muslim; now the mosque attack: In France, events are coming thick and fast. Macron seems powerless against the division of the population.

France is the European country with the most Muslims: an estimated six million. Nevertheless, the country is struggling to find an appropriate way of dealing with the religion of Muhammad. Currently, the debate about Islam is once again reaching a climax.

Two injured outside a mosque

In mid-September, a member of parliament from the right-wing nationalist party Rassemblement National demanded that a Muslim mother accompanying a school class remove her Islamic headscarf. In early October, a radicalized Muslim police officer stabbed four people to death in Paris. Now, on Monday, an 84-year-old Rassemblement National supporter injured two people outside a mosque in Bayonne, southern France, which he was trying to set on fire.

Between populism, Islamophobia and the separation of church and state, the debate about Islam is becoming a social powder keg. President Emmanuel Macron did everything on Tuesday to become master of the discussion again. On Monday evening, he met with the French Islamic Council (CFCM). On the agenda were the headscarf and measures against radicalization.

In the future, a panel will ie certificates of good conduct for imams. But if the content of their speeches contradicts French laws, this certificate should be able to be withdrawn.

Macron: "Great discourse" on separation of state and religion

Macron is having a hard time with the ie. At the start of his 2017 term, he announced a "great discourse" on the separation of state and religion; there hasn't been one yet. At the beginning, the president threw himself enthusiastically into the subject. He met religious representatives, participated in thematic events and wanted to give new nuances to the relationship between state and church. Secularism should become more "inclusive," president says.

For years, politicians and intellectuals in France have been arguing about the interpretation of the 1905 law on the separation of church and state. Should it be interpreted "inclusively," meaning religion should be more involved in political considerations? Or should it disappear even more from the public eye?

Visible religious symbols have been causing heated debate in the country for years. The burkini is the subject of controversy during the outdoor swimming season. Currently, the Islamic headscarf is causing a stir. For pupils it is already forbidden since 2004. Shouldn't it then also be forbidden for Muslim mothers to be escorts on school trips? Yes, find right-wing deputies.

Majority would like to see religious signs banned in public

In the Senate, a Republican congressman has now introduced a bill to this effect. Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, who had previously stated that wearing a headscarf was "not desirable in our society," but now called the submission "counterproductive". One does not reach thereby the goal of binding the families more closely to the schools.

101 Muslims recently published an open letter in the magazine "Marianne" describing the Islamic headscarf as "sexist and hostile to enlightenment". In a recent poll conducted by the Ifop Institute for "Le Journal du Dimanche," the majority of respondents want a broader ban on religious signs in public. 78 percent of those surveyed see the French model of separation of church and state "in danger.

Macron fears stigmatization of Muslim French people

Political scientist Philippe Portier, writing in La Croix newspaper, spoke of a "difficult" polarization of society between seculars and religionists. France is no longer a country with a "homogeneous", largely "Catholic-secular" population.

This social diversity poses new challenges to the French system of more than 100 years ago. Macron fears stigmatization of Muslim French and calls for unity – but the people expect more from him. He scored points with his emotional speech two years ago. Meanwhile, he is measured by what he has achieved.

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