Frustrated by years of terrorism inflicted by radical Islamists, France’s parliament is debating a law to end Muslim separatism. French evangelicals fear their churches will become collateral damage.
“This is the first time, as president of the Protestant Federation of France, that I find myself in the position of defending freedom of worship,” said François Clavairoly. “I never imagined that in my own country something like this could happen.”
Officially named the Law to Uphold Republican Principles, the 459-page bill has been the subject of fierce debate in February, receiving over 1,700 proposed amendments. The aim, interior minister Gerald Darmanin told parliament, is to stop “an Islamist hostile takeover targeting Muslims” that “like gangrene [is] infecting our national unity”. With Muslims often crowded into the many impoverished banlieues of France’s major cities, officials fear imported extremist ideologies are leading the religious minority to avoid national integration.
Among the key provisions of the bill are greater monitoring of religious associations. It will also prevent non-French citizens from taking control of an association, which will be required to sign a “contract of Republican commitment” ensuring its members honour French values. Foreign funding over $12,000 must be reported to the authorities.