France adopts 'Islamophobic' anti-separatism bill
While the bill says it is designed to preserve France's "republican values", it has an overbearing impact on aspects of education, social and religious life, women’s rights, establishment and management of religious associations.
It bans polygamy or forced marriages, issuance of virginity certificates, making places of worship more transparent and proscribing political meetings in a religious building, among others.
Activists say the bill has already affected the Muslim community, with large waves of Islamophobic acts being reported across the country. Critics argue the bill singles out France's Muslim community - the largest in Europe.
The bill may have to pass through the Constitutional Council - the highest constitutional authority which has the right to overrule provisions of approved bills.
Several French parties have opposed the text and threatened to pledge an overrule from the Council on the grounds of discrimination.
During the Friday discussion, socialist politician and leader of the La France Insoumise party, Jean-Luc Melenchon, attempted to launch a motion to discard the bill, which he described as Islamophobic and contrary to French values. The motion was opposed by lawmakers.
After his motion was rejected, Melenchon tweeted that the bill “invents a hollow and hazy concept: separatism.”
He added it was shameful that hours were dedicated to discussing “the veil, the burkini, foreign flags at weddings and even ululations” with the pandemic raging on.
Recently, France’s Senate voted in favour of banning girls under the age of 18 from wearing the hijab in public. The hijab is a headscarf worn by many Muslim women and has been the subject of a decades-long feud in France.