In an unprecedented and landmark move, French President Emmanuel Macron unveiled plans to confront 'Islamist separatism' in the secular nation. The most crucial steps France would take are curtailing the 'foreign influence' on Islam and enforcing more oversight on the operations and financing of mosques.

Months earlier, Macron had promised that he would take steps to fight foreign influence over French Islam. That statement, made during a speech at Mulhouse in February, came in the backdrop of rising Islamic fundamentalism and terror attacks in the country.

Islam Seen as Threat to France's Core Values

Macron's speech, delivered outside of Paris, came in the backdrop of the perception that Islam is increasingly becoming a threat to France's core values, the BBC reported.

In recent years, France has seen brazen Islamist attacks against the hallowed French ideals of secularism and freedom of expression. As many as 130 people were killed in the Paris terror attack in November 2015, which were claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis).

Earlier that year in February, the Islamist terror attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo killed 12 people including many journalists.

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a press conference after the European Union's Informal Summit in Salzburg, Austria, Sept. 20, 2018. (Xinhua/Ye Pingfan/IANS)
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a press conference after the European Union's Informal Summit in Salzburg, Austria, Sept. 20, 2018. (Xinhua/Ye Pingfan/IANS) IANS

The republication of the cartoons denigrating Prophet Mohamad by the magazine last month triggered another wave of Islamist protests, which culminated in a knife attack near Charlie Hebdo's former offices.

Macron stated in his speech that radical Islam was a danger to France as it sought to hold its own laws above the state laws and tried creating 'counter-society'.

Another unprecedented observation by the French leader was that Islam is cutting its own path in France by inviting foreign imams to its mosques, keeping children out of school and by using sport and cultural activities as a "pretext to teach principles that do not conform to the laws of the republic".

'Islam in Crisis World Over'

Macron observed that the crisis of Islam is not limited to France alone but to the whole world. "Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world today, we are not just seeing this in our country," he said.

How Macron Plans to Handle 'Islam Question'

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A French flag with a tribute for a victim is seen on the Promenade des Anglais. Reuters

The President discussed wide-ranging measures to handle the threat of radical Islam in France. One of the tasks for the government is to make sure that sports organizations and other associations are not allowed to become a 'front for Islamist teaching'.

In another significant measure, France will end the system under which imams are sent to France from abroad. Another measure announced by Macron is that there will be improved oversight of the financing of the mosques in the country. Macron also asked for stricter restrictions for home-schooling, which is popular among Muslims.

Sections of Muslims in France reacted sharply to Macron's promised reforms, according to BBC. "The repression of Muslims has been a threat, now it is a promise," French human rights activist Yasser Louati tweeted.