The National Assembly in France approved a draft law to fight what is called "isolationism," and the government says that its aim is "to reinforce the principles of the republic" in the face of several dangers, the first of which is what it calls "Islamic extremism."
The bill was approved on Tuesday with the approval of 347 deputies against 151 rejections, while 64 abstentions.
"Our country suffers from isolationist tendencies, on top of which is Islamic extremism, which is undermining our national unity," Interior Minister Gerald Darmanan said during the parliamentary discussions.
He believed that the draft law "provides concrete responses to isolation based on identity and the spread of Islamic extremism, which represents an ideology hostile to the principles and values founding of the Republic."
Before the vote, Darmanan said in other statements he made to RTL that this law represented a "strong attack" for the secular state, describing it as "a harsh text .. but necessary for the republic."
French activists and other critics say the law targets Muslims, although it does not make any reference to a specific religion.
Opponents of the law, of all stripes, see that it restricts freedoms and provides a narrow view of secularism, and that some of its chapters are duplicated and exist in enforceable laws.
Left-wing MPs expressed strong opposition to this text, saying that the bill "marginalizes Muslims."
An ambition to ban the headscarf
On the other hand, lawmakers on the right have argued that the law may be weaker than France needs.
The right-wing Republican Party wanted to ban headscarves in universities, and Dimanabad, the leader of the party’s parliamentary bloc that voted almost unanimously against the bill, said the text was “lukewarm and fluid,” and did not address topics such as “the influx of immigrants and extremism in universities, schools, prisons and sports.”
Le Pen saw that the law is a retreat in front of what she called "Islamic octopus" (European)
For her part, Representative Marine Le Pen - the leader of the far-right movement aspiring to the presidency of France in 2022 - said that the text represents "a political retreat in front of the Islamic octopus that penetrates wherever it is."
The parliamentary debates witnessed a fierce debate about a chapter related to education at home, which today includes about 62 thousand children in France.
The text tightens the screws on this type of education by imposing prior licenses and specific conditions for obtaining them.
The passage of the law - which was pushed by President Emmanuel Macron, amid a campaign carried out by the authorities against Islamic entities in France - 15 months before the date of the presidential elections.
The text criminalizes "isolationist" tendencies, imposes strict control on the activities of religious and cultural societies, and stresses the principle of "religious neutrality" for public sector employees.
Voting was carried out in the National Assembly after extensive discussions of the text in a special committee, and then in a plenary session, during which 313 amendments were approved.
The law is scheduled to go to Senate debate next April.