- The bill to fight “separatism” will be debated from Tuesday in the Senate.
- In committee, the senators, in particular from the right and the center, have already retouched certain points of the text approved by the Assembly on February 16.
- The Republicans hope to “toughen” this text by adding in particular bans on the wearing of the veil.
The debates promise to be heated. The bill on separatism, or more officially “consolidating respect for the principles of the Republic”, will be examined from Tuesday in the Senate, after being adopted in the Assembly on February 16. For the right, the majority in the upper house, it is an opportunity to “harden” the text of the government to target more Islamism. And to put on the carpet the debate on the wearing of the veil, dismissed in the Assembly dominated by the LREM majority, one year before the presidential election.
In committee, the senators have already deleted article 21 on home schooling, opposed to the authorization regime that the executive wishes to institute. “Of course home schooling can be used by religious radicals, but we should not annoy people for whom it is an education choice,” explains Jacqueline Eustache-Brinio. Senator Les Républicains du Val-d’Oise, she is co-rapporteur of the text with the centrist Dominique Vérien.
It is on this article 21 that consensus could be the hardest to find, according to the leader of the senators La République en Marche, François Patriat. But the LREM majority intends to reinstate this article 21 when the bill returns to the Assembly.
The return of the veil debate
The flammable subject of the wearing of the veil will also be debated at the Luxembourg Palace, while it had been avoided by the majority in the Assembly, which had ruled inadmissible the amendments on its ban. Several LR amendments will be examined in the hemicycle, including one on the neutrality of people contributing to the public service of education, such as school guides. “This is a subject that the text must address, because we elected must be ramparts against political Islam”, defends Jacqueline Eustache-Brinio, at the origin of this amendment.
Another from LR plans to ban the wearing of religious symbols by minors in public spaces. “The veiling of little girls is a real subject, but this text is not the right legislative vehicle”, nuances the senator from Val-d’Oise. “There will be a broader debate than in the Assembly, and we will try to harden this text, even if it does not allow us to go as far as we want, because it is a project of very technical law, ”she said.
Political ulterior motives
“The text adopted in the Assembly is balanced, it is not worth raising the question of the veil again, it is not the subject”, deplores for his part François Patriat. The walker accuses the senatorial right, “and part of the UDI”, of “instrumentalizing” the bill to “try to exist”, one year before the presidential election.
While the controversy over the Strasbourg mosque has once again stirred the public debate on Islamism and state action, ministers Gérald Darmanin and Marlène Schiappa will have to defend their text in the hemicycle. “It is a test to pass for the government”, concedes François Patriat. “We’re going to argue against the right, but it’s not necessarily worth committing your forces to a fight lost in advance, especially when you know that you’ll win in the return match!” “