French President Emmanuel Macron has announced his new plan to free mosques, neighborhoods and schools in France from Islamist extremism and impose the laws of the Republic, based on equality and freedom. This plan was rejected by many Muslims in France, who saw it as a kind of circumvention of the “yellow jackets” crisis, even though the president has repeatedly stressed that it is not a war against Islam, but rather a plan against “Islamist separatism”, which sows the seeds of separation between the French by making the laws of religion prevail over those of the Republic.
This plan is based on four main measures. The first concerns mosques and schools. In this connection, the French President announced that his country will gradually get rid of Muslim Imams sent by countries such as Morocco, Algeria and Turkey by 2024, while setting up a system for training Imams in France according to the principles of the Republic. In order to control the sources of funding for mosques, the collection of donations will be prohibited, except in the case of the Muslim Association for Islam in France.
The second measure is to ensure better coordination between the representatives of Muslims in France. Combating attempts at separatism in French society, manifested in particular through swimming pools and single-sex sports clubs, etc., is the third measure.
Lastly, the fourth measure consists in ensuring an educational, social and sports offering in neighborhoods where Muslim communities are concentrated.
Several French newspapers have commented on the French President’s initiative. Libération, for example, described the Macron plan as “French-style Islam”, considering that the planned measures are a major mistake, as they appear to be hostile to Islam as a religion.
For its part, Les Echos stressed that a few weeks before the municipal elections scheduled for 15 March, the French president is exposed to regular attacks both from the right, which accuses him of complacency towards “Islamist extremism”, and from the left, which accuses him of stirring up the feelings of Muslims in France.
Le Monde, for its part, referred to the appeal of “100 intellectuals”, which was published by Le Figaro in March 2018, and in which the term “Islamist separatism” was used at that time, considering that it represents a kind of “apartheid” and Islamophobia.
Le Parisien wondered whether the measures announced by Macron might be sufficient, while Le Figaro considered that the fact that Mulhouse had been chosen to announce these measures to combat Islamist extremism was not accidental, recalling that the city is home to a large immigrant community.