Emmanuel Macron sets up a fight with radical Islamists and states that fund extremists

French leader reveals 415 grassroots 'organisations of radical intent' have been shut down

epa08714604 French President Emmanuel Macron (L) speaks with Les Mureaux's mayor Francois Garay (R) in Les Mureaux, outside Paris, France, prior to deliver a speech to present his strategy to fight separatism, 02 October 2020.  EPA/LUDOVIC MARIN / POOL  MAXPPP OUT

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, has announced plans to push through a new law to fight the threat from radical Islamist ideology and other extremist activity in the biggest reform to the country's civil code in 115 years.

Speaking to an assembled audience in Paris on Friday, Mr Macron said he wanted to put the French republican values on the frontline of the battle against the divisions in society. The measure was billed as a full scale overhaul of the landmark 1905 law on the separation of religion and state.

While extolling his government's record in addressing extremism, he said an all-encompassing new approach was needed. "We know there are people who can become radicalised in just a few hours because of the way they feel about society," he said. "Since 2017 we have continued to fight against radicalisation, the methodology we have adopted has worked, the institutions were able to fight against a form of radical Islam.

"Our effort needs to be more vast, we need to bring the French republic into these areas."

He pointed out pressure on schools, bus services and even the Paris Charles De Gaulle airport to implement special codes of behaviour. He said this activity would be expunged.

The centrist leader said the country was changing the paradigm and that schools would be part of the effort. Private schools would face close inspection and only children with medical conditions would be schooled at home.

Mr Macron took on the widespread abuse of community organisations that provide services to youths or charitable networks, which were being abused by the ideologues. While he revealed that 415 grass roots organisations of radical intent have been shut down, new laws would fight foreign control and financing of the charities and non-government organisations.

"Those people who fight for radical Islam, they also benefit from these not-for-profit organisations," he said. "We have been working with experts to come with a new form of this law. There are community organisations out there providing community service but they are using these to fight for their own doctrine."

In the book Qatar Papers, French journalists Georges Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot revealed that Qatar was pouring hundreds of millions into Muslim Brotherhood-controlled organisations across France.

The president said he wanted Islam in France to be a positive part of society. "I'm not saying we need to create a French style of Islam, but that there can be a solid partnership with the French state," he said. "We need to be there to support this new form of Islam. The best way we can do that is by freeing it up from foreign influence."

Stanislas Guerini, a senator for the ruling LREM party, said the measure would have wider application. "There are other trends, for example I am thinking of white supremacists," he said.

Marlène Schiappa, the minister responsible for citizenship, said "the main threat was of Islamism, radical Islamism ".

Muslims of France association president Amar Lasfar said that he was not sure that a new law was necessary, as applying existing laws could reach the same result. He also took issue with Macron's choice of words.

"It is a speech that tries to point at a danger, and I do not quite agree. In 'Islamism' there is the word 'Islam' and I think he could have talked about extremism or radicalisation. One cannot stigmatise all Muslims," he said.

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