Macron’s Separatism Bill — a new liberal inquisition

Muhammad Jalal
4 min readNov 19, 2020

I was asked to put together a political briefing on Macron’s so-called bill to outlaw separatism. Here is an edited copy (with thanks to Zakaria K).

The ‘separatism’ Bill announced by Emmanuel Macron on the 2nd October is currently working its way through the institutions of the French executive. The proposed law is called the “Bill to Reinforce Secularism and Republican Principles”, the term ‘separatism’, once considered, has been removed. The Bill looks to update the 1905 law that officially separated church from state.

The French Minister of interior, Gérald Darmanin announced on BFMTV 3 weeks ago that the completed draft will be presented to the Conseil d’État or Council of State. This is a quasi- legal branch of the French state that looks at bills to make sure it conforms to the French constitution.

Based on the fragments that announced beforehand, it seems there are some constitutional difficulties with the bill. For example, the odd statement by Mr Darmanin that those that refuse a doctor from the opposite gender may get up to 5 years in prison, remains questionable within the French constitution. According to Rim Sarah Alouane, a French academic, “There is no way this law can be fully deemed constitutional”.

On the 9th December, the text will then be presented to the Council of Ministers (Conseil des ministre) which is a committee within the French executive that consists of the President and senior ministers (similar to a core cabinet). This is a highly symbolic date because it coincides with the anniversary of the 1905 founding law. The government seeks to fast track the bill through parliament so that it becomes law by July.

The bill has been published in draft form and can be found here:

What do we know so far about the contents of the bill?

To prohibit home education. This will make it near to impossible to remove children from state education to be schooled at home and to introduce a child ID system for all children above 3. (Note, this will have an impact on Catholic and Jewish communities as well, unless the bill can be worded in a way to outlaw Muslim home…

Muhammad Jalal

Politics lecturer, London. Host of The Thinking Muslim Podcast