French right-wing party Les Republicains (LR) Member of Parliament Marc Le Fur (C) speaks during a session of questions to the government at the French National Assembly in Paris, France, Feb. 9, 2021. (AFP File Photo)
France’s lower house of parliament approved Tuesday a law to fight extremism and so-called “Islamist separatism” that the government bills as a riposte to “religious groups attempting to undermine France’s secular traditions.”
President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party rallied around the legislation, with 347 National Assembly lawmakers voting in favor, 151 against and 65 abstaining.
An international alliance of 36 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) representing 13 countries recently petitioned the United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR) about the systematic anti-Muslim actions of France.
Prominent NGOs, lawyers and religious bodies called on the OHCHR to act on France’s “breadth of state abuse against Muslims” that has been raging in the country for over two decades. The coalition accuses the French government of violating “a number of basic rights that are protected in legislation that is ratified by Paris.”
The statement also alleged that the French government weaponized “laicite,” the French version of secularism, to justify the intrusion of the state in the religious and political practices of Muslims.
“France stands in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. France infringed on freedoms of children, specifically to target Muslim children in violation of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child,” the statement added.
The document calls upon the U.N. to ensure that France upholds and enforces the group’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and its International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) along with every directive on the prohibition of discrimination and racism.
The statement further urges France to enact or rescind legislation where necessary to prohibit any such discrimination and to “take all appropriate measures to combat intolerance on the grounds of religion in this matter.”
The NGOs also sought the intervention of international bodies due to the lack of any real or effective remedy within the French legal system to tackle these types of discrimination.