Stricter monitoring of home education, the offense of “separatism”, the suppression of hate on the Internet, increased control of associations, the financing of cults … the “separatism” bill must answer these questions.
Why it matters. This text, which after two weeks of scrutiny by MPs led to sometimes heated and passionate discussions, had been thought through in view of the rise of a certain Islamist separatism. Even after the Trappes affair and the murder of Samuel Paty, he must prevent hate speech from circulating.
Here are the most important actions.
Article 21 on Family Education (IEF) was the most discussed measure in the text. The reform tightens its rules by moving from a declaration system to an authorization system at the beginning of the 2022 school year.
The approval of the IEF can only be given for reasons of health, handicap, artistic or sporting practice, the homelessness of the family, the distance to an institution and also in the case of a “child-specific situation that motivates the project. Education”.
A transition period is planned until the school year 2024-2025. Families who already practice homeschooling can be screened from 2021 to 2022 to ensure that “this type of teaching is not being used for separatist practices”.
The text strengthens the oversight of schools outside the treaty, in particular by introducing an “administrative closure system” in case of “abuse”.
Sports associations recognized by the state are switching from a “supervisory regime” to a “control regime”. For recognized associations, “respect for the principles and values of the republic” is included in the approval.
On the initiative of LR, the MPs passed the creation of a criminal offense that hinders the function of the teacher.
After the beheading of Professor Samuel Paty added in October, Article 18 constitutes a new offense that puts the lives of others at risk by disseminating information about their private life “in order to put him or her. Members of his family at direct risk of harm to the person or the property that the author could not ignore ”.
He is punished with three years imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euros.
This new provision is also seen as a new version of the controversial Article 24 of the Proposal on Comprehensive Security for the Image of Police Officers.
Public Service Neutrality
The text describes the principle of (religious) neutrality of representatives under private law who are responsible for a mission in the public service (transport company, Aéroports de Paris, etc.). So far, case law has prevailed.
A “republican deficiency” procedure is created which enables the prefect to expose the decisions or actions of a community that seriously disregards the neutrality of public service.
The scope of the acts of perpetrators of terrorist offenses (Fjiait) has been changed to include “offenses related to provocation and tolerance of terrorist acts”. Their authors are prohibited from “exercising functions in contact with the public”.
Crimes of “separatism”
Article 4 aims to punish a five-year prison term and a fine of € 75,000 for anyone who threatens, violates or intimidates an elected official or public service representative in order to circumvent public service rules.
Supervision of associations
Each grant application will be “the subject of an obligation on the part of the association to respect the principles and values of the republic”.
The reasons for the dissolution of an association in the Council of Ministers are expanded.
While Muslim places of worship mostly fall under the association regime provided for in the 1901 Act for historical reasons, the draft law encourages them to register under the 1905 regime, which is more transparent from an accounting and financial point of view.
In return, they can get access to tax deductions or even get limited income from buildings purchased for free.
Foreign donations over 10,000 euros are subject to a resource declaration. Certification of accounts is mandatory in the case of “benefits or resources from abroad”.
An “anti-coup” regulation is planned to prevent extremists from taking over a mosque.
Article 44, passed on Saturday, provides for a two-month closure procedure for prefects of places of worship where speeches, ideas, theories, activities that incite or tend to incite hatred or violence are intended to encourage them.
Another article provides that “the judge can forbid appearing at places of worship (…) if he is convicted of provoking acts of terrorism or inciting discrimination, hatred or violence”.
The declaration of alienation from a French place of worship to a foreign state is mandatory. The prefects can oppose this.
Dignity and equality
The law forbids all health professionals to issue virginity certificates with a prison sentence of up to one year and a fine of 15,000 euros. Any form of pressure that often comes from those around you can also be punished.
The text strengthens its arsenal of polygamy, which is banned in France, by generalizing the prohibition on issuing a residence permit to foreigners living in a state of polygamy in France.
In order to combat forced marriage, the registrar is obliged to “meet separately with the future spouse in case of doubt” and to “refer the public prosecutor” in case of doubt.
Sometimes heated debates
Here are five highlights from discussions about the review of the bill, which passed on Saturday.
Mélenchon lectures (secular)
At the beginning of the discussions on February 1st, Jean-Luc Mélenchon set the tone with a vigorous rejection movement. Almost 40 minutes of a speech in which the rebellious leader seems to want to knock out the majority through his erudition by declaring the government guilty in his eyes for rendering a copy irrelevant to secularism. He calls the spirits of the “unbelievers”. And vibrates: “The love of the republic, like any love, is worth nothing that is threatened”.
The atmosphere is stormy. The MPs apostrophized the responsible LFI. Ministers sometimes laugh. The teacher’s lesson glides over a dispersed class. It is Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin who replies with a touch of insolence. “Monsieur Mélenchon, I know very well that you are the Republic, but let me represent it for a moment.” The leader of the left is angry. His request for rejection is largely denied.
LR lifts the veil
The majority do not want their text damaged in endless arguments over a very identified political object: the veil.
The branding of the constitution and regulations is delaying changes deemed irrelevant. The LRs call for political censorship, but quickly manage to afford an anti-veil platform.
Eric Ciotti and Annie Genevard denounce a “symbol of enslavement” and “proselytism” and advocate banning the veil at universities or for school leaders.
The Place Beauvau tenant seems to want to avoid the fight at first before entering the arena. He counters by referring to Nicolas Sarkozy, who is considered less adamant, and by quoting the first Muslim MP in the 19th century, or the “Bachagha” Boualam, a high-ranking Harki who was vice president of the National Assembly.
Ex-LREM MP M’jid El Guerrab admits that he is “a little sick in heart” when he thinks about his mother’s veil. All changes to the LR are rejected.
In the name of the father
At the end of the first week, Marlène Schiappa and Alexis Corbière are far from separatism. The rebellious person made Ms. Schiappa aware of the La Libre Pensée association, “which you know well” … A few moments later, the minister responsible for citizenship was outraged by this “personal allusion” and “inelegant”. In it a reference to his father Jean-Marc Schiappa, a historian who sympathizes with the LFI and is president of the study department of this association for the strict defense of secularism.
“I adore my father”, Ms. Schiappa continues, “but in 2021 girls won’t have to think like their father”. Hustle and bustle. Alexis Corbière takes a side step: “I never suggested that you think like the historian Jean-Marc Schiappa,” who is “our friend and comrade”. And to add, “If we don’t agree with you, we’re not necessarily macho or anti-republican.” A few days later, The Free Thought will crack a press release sent by LFI to cancel the bill.
Paty rather than Zemmour
MEPs passed the Samuel Paty article on February 10, which punishes disseminating information about personal life with a malicious purpose. The new offense is set to learn lessons from the October 2020 beheading of Professor Paty, who was the victim of a hate campaign.
MEPs discussed a change that would allow the judicial system to ask a television station to broadcast the conviction of an employee who would be convicted of inciting hatred. In the sights: the right-wing extremist polemicist Eric Zemmour.
Stormy exchange. Eric Dupond-Moretti regrets “promoting this gentleman”. Eric Ciotti protests against “shame on freedom of expression”. Rejection of the amendment.
The ghosts of the school argue
More than twelve hours of heated discussions and a change of government out of the hat: the project for a more restrictive regime for family education makes it difficult for Jean-Michel Blanquer. The very insulting lobbying work of homeschooling supporters and the return of the school dispute against the background of freedom of education have got the opposition on their toes.
The measure is criticized on the right, but even the communists, who seemed to be strongly supportive of the reform of the government, will turn a blind eye in the end and receive the key to a lively and much applauded speech from their leader André Chassaigne. At LREM, the “rigidity” of the education minister makes people flinch. A frontline MP quoted Audiard: “A flexible minister? It’s like flying fish, it exists, but it’s rare. “The largely changed measure was finally adopted.