To Combat ‘Islamic Separatism,’ France's Macron Calls for Outlawing Homeschooling, Invokes State’s Secularism

By Alexander Watson | October 6, 2020 | 3:49pm EDT
French President Emmanuel Macron.  (Getty Images)
French President Emmanuel Macron. (Getty Images)

French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Friday, in a speech about combating “Islamic separatism,” legal measures aimed at restricting homeschooling and Islamic practices that often result in “the creation of a counter-society.”  Although the speech was aimed at Islamic sectarianism, many critics saw it as also targeting Christian parents who educate their children outside France's public school system.

In his speech, Macron stressed that “secularism … is the cement of the united France.” (La laïcité, c'est le ciment de la France unie.) La laïcité, meaning secularism, also refers to a 1905 French law, which guarantees a secular religion to the French state. 

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

As the French government’s website states, "'The ‘freedom to practice religion’ has been recognized since 1905 when the Law on the Separation of the Church and State (la loi sur la séparation de l’Église et de l’État) came into effect.

“Far from being a weapon against religion, this text returned all religions to the private sector and established state secularism in the public sphere. The French State does not favour any one religion and guarantees their peaceful co-existence in respect of the laws and principles of the Republic. In application of the secular principle, the law of 15 March 2004 prohibits all clothing or other attire displaying religious worship to be worn in schools.”

However, the new law proposed by Macron seeks to ensure that secular values are inculcated into all youth between the ages of 3 and 16 by outlawing “illicit schools.” 

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

“Our challenge is to fight against those who go off the rails in the name of religion,” he said.

In addition to curtailing homeschooling, Macron’s plan would include “stricter monitoring of sports organizations and other associations so that they do not become a front for Islamist teaching; an end to the system of imams being sent to France from abroad; and improved oversight of the financing of mosques,” said the BBC.

The law would essentially end homeschooling in France, which is practiced by a reported 50,000 students, Catholics, Protestants, and atheists.

As reported by LifeSiteNews, “The new law would come into force in the school year 2021–2022 for all children aged between 3 and 16. It was already under Macron’s presidency that education became compulsory for tots of infant school age. With a comfortable majority at the National Assembly, the ruling La République en Marche party, which Macron led to victory in 2017, is expected to validate the draft law the government will present in accordance with the president’s wishes.”

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

“Macron’s announcements were part of a series of measures aimed at fighting what he calls ‘separatism,’ a strange expression he uses to designate the aims of ‘radical Islamists’ who want to substitute the laws of the French Republic with sharia law,” said LifeSiteNews.  “He quoted the example of a clandestine school where young Muslims were found in a plain, almost windowless room, taught by women in hijabs and learning mostly prayers and the Koran, in order to justify his wide-ranging attack against freedom of education.”

“The problem is this ideology which affirms that its own laws are superior to those of the Republic,” said Macron. “I do not ask of any of our citizens to believe or not to believe, to believe a little or moderately, that is not the affair of the Republic, but I ask of all citizens, whether his religion or not, the absolute respect of all the laws of the Republic.”

Although the bill is being sold as a measure to combat “Islamic separatism,” the effects of the law will affect all members of French society.

According to a report by the National Association of Catholic Families, under this new law, homeschooling would be outlawed entirely except for cases where there is a health condition, which prevents the child from attending school. There will also be a “common core” for all French students aimed at inculcating the secular virtues desired by the French state.  

“Macron’s objective is by no means hidden,” reported LifeSiteNews. “During his speech, he outlined his strategy against radical Islam — by means of which and under whose pretext he is in fact attacking primary parental freedoms and rights, especially those of Catholic parents.”

“School is the republican melting pot,” said Macron. “It’s what makes it possible for us to protect our children in a complete way from any religious sign, from religion. It is truly the heart of the space of secularism, and it is this place where we form consciences so that children become free, rational citizens, able to choose their own lives. The school is therefore our collective treasure. It is what allows us in our society to build this common thing that is the Republic.” [Emphasis added.]

Since 1905, the new religion of the state has been officially secularism, or, La laïcité, which seeks “to protect children from religion” by teaching them irreligious tenets. Under the law proposed by Macron, the official aim of the French state would be to effectively outlaw the private education of children by parents and have compulsory inculcation into the principles of secularism for children between the ages of 3 and16.

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