Protesters say French anti-radicalism law is anti-Muslim

Activists rally in Paris to demand that the French government abandon a bill aimed at rooting out Islamist extremism that the protesters say could trample on religious freedom and make all Muslims into potential suspects.

French lawmakers hold a key vote Tuesday on the draft law, which is expected to win approval in both houses of parliament. The legislative debate comes amid lingering fears of extremist violence after an Islamic radical beheaded a history teacher and other recent attacks.

President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist government argues that the bill is needed to protect French values like gender equality and secularism, and to prevent radical ideas from taking root and inspiring violence.

But those at Sunday’s protest say France already has legal tools to do this, and that the bill stigmatizes the country’s No. 2 religion even though the majority of French Muslims do not espouse extremist views.

A man speaks on stage as protesters demonstrate against a bill dubbed as ‘anti-separatism’ in Paris on February 14, 2021 (GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)
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