Statement from the Embassy of France regarding the recent events that occured in France (October 28, 2020)

Statement from the Embassy of France regarding the recent events that occured in France (October 28, 2020)

Freedom of religion is protected by the French Constitution and legal system. Indeed, as stated in the French Constitution of 1958, « France is an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic, guaranteeing that all citizens regardless of their origin, race or religion are treated as equals before the law and respecting all religious beliefs ». The « freedom to practice religion » has been recognised since 1905 when the Law on the Separation of the Church and State came into effect. Far from being a tool against religion, this law returned all religions to the private sphere and established state secularism in the public sphere. The French State does not favour or stigmatise any religion and guarantees their peaceful co-existence within the laws and principles of the Republic.

The President of the Republic did not target the Muslim community in France at all but only an ideology – radical Islamism – that should be isolated and fought. This ideology, built on indoctrination and the creation of a counter-society, thinks it is above the laws of the State. It is in this sense that radical Islamism is a “separatist” project that can even, in some cases, seek to take control of society. The President clearly indicated that he would be intransigent concerning any generalisation, distinguishing the vast majority of French citizens of Muslim faith from the militant and separatist minority who are hostile to the values of the Republic, and who are moreover a burden for the former.

This radical Islamism may have been fuelled by crises and abuses in the Islamic world, or by external influences, but it has also found fertile ground in the social difficulties affecting France, and in its colonial past which for too long was a taboo – a trauma which the President has said several times he wants to address. Indeed, the majority of victims from Islamist radicalism are Muslims themselves. Representatives of the Muslim faith in France rallied around the President.

The President reminded the importance of secularism, the cement of society in the Republic, which is the foundation of the freedom to believe or not to believe, the possibility to exercise one’s religion, and the neutrality of the State. He announced the upcoming presentation of a bill to strengthen secularism. He underlined that secularism in no way means erasing religions from the public sphere. While he did not express himself as to the content of caricatures, he defended the right to caricature under the laws of the French Republic.

In recent days, calls to boycott French products have emanated from certain quarters in the Middle East and have been relayed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. We note that some personalities have tried to start such a campaign in Malaysia : we are heartened by the assurances given to us by the Malaysian authorities that the Malaysian government does not condone such appeals.

For the complete speech pronounced by the French President on October 2nd, click on the link : https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/coming-to-france/france-facts/secularism-and-religious-freedom-in-france-63815/article/fight-against-separatism-the-republic-in-action-speech-by-emmanuel-macron

Latest modification 28/10/2020

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