In a televised address on Friday, Macron said his government was working to propose a bill to France’s parliament next year to address what he called “Islamist isolationism and separatism.” Under the plan, France will fight what Macron described as the favoring of religious laws over France’s republican, secular “values.”
The French president also claimed that Islam is “a religion that is today in crisis all over the world.”
In response to Macron’s comments, 100 prominent French Muslims signed an open letter that called on the French government to stop stigmatizing Muslims.
“Stop the escalation of empty political and media debates. Stop the indictment of any speaker, Muslim or not, who does not subscribe to the racist speeches that have become omnipresent on our screens,” they said.
The proposed plan, which will be formally presented as a bill in December, expands on a 1905 law that officially separated religion from the French state.
“Behind this law, there is a real stigmatization,” said Nagib Azergui, founder of the Union of French Muslim Democrats political party. “[The proposal] is making a direct link between Muslims, terrorism, and radicalization.”
Azergui said he was concerned that one of the consequences of the proposed plan would be an increase in Islamophobia across France.
France’s Interior Ministry recorded 154 Islamophobic incidents in 2019, a 54-percent increase from the previous year.
The Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), which uses a different method of calculation, announced that it had recorded approximately 2,000 instances of Islamophobia last year.
Islamophobic and other extremist groups in Europe have been propagating against Islam.
Moreover, the rise of far-right ideology and the propagation of anti-immigration policies have also exacerbated the status of religious minorities in Europe.