Paris will ban the funding of mosques by foreign states and will stop Arabic and Turkish courses for Muslim children.
French President Emmanuel Macron has launched a mayoral election campaign targeting Muslims in his latest move to attract far-right supporters.
During the his visit to Mulhouse, in northeastern of France, on Tuesday, he vowed to fight against “political Islam” by accusing Muslims of ‘Islamic separatism’.
The leader, who marketed himself as a ‘centrist’ during his 2017 presidential campaign, promised to crack down on the community, which he accused of isolating itself from the rest of the country.
Muslims and racial minorities in France regularly complain of severe job discrimination, as well as harassment by police.
Macron’s latest campaign targeting Muslims comes amid widespread discontent that has manifested in the Yellow Vest movement.
The French president said he wants to put an end to a system in which Turkey, Morocco, and Algeria and several other countries provide religious leaders for mosques within France.
Nearly 300 imams lead communities in this way. He also said 2020 would be the last year this system will function.
Instead, he said imams will be trained in France, according to French cultural values.
The French government will also withdraw courses to students in Arabic and Turkish.
The learning of their mother tongue is “an important vector of separatism,” according to Macron.
While the move is in keeping with France’s tradition of anti-Muslim policies in recent years, the move comes amid rising far-right sentiment in the country with some polls putting National Front leader Marine Le Pen on equal footing with Macron.
With little to boast about when it comes to the economy, Macron hopes that by taking the toughest line on Muslims, he can siphon support from Le Pen.
Far-right sentiments are becoming normalised in governments across Europe. With rising social equality and a widening gap between rich and poor, capitalising on fears surrounding Islam and immigration have become a way for governments to sure up support.