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Macron’s New Action Plan to Tackle Extremist Islamism

French President Emmanuel Macron seeks to combat the growing Islamism in France with an action plan. He is currently laying the foundation for that plan.

Macron: ‘the Republic Must Keep Its Promises’

Recently President Macron paid a symbolic visit to the Alsatian city of Mulhouse and its problem areas to prepare the announcement of its action plan against Muslim separatism. The aim was to show that his long-announced action plan was not drawn up in the ivory tower of the Élysée Palace, but in several ministries and that he was aware of the problems on the ground. “The Republic must keep its promises,” Macron said to the residents, adding: “We have to fight separatism because others try to replace the Republic if it does not keep its promises.”

For a long time, French society had resigned itself to the existence of problem areas, especially in larger cities. However, since 2015, the country has been shaken by a series of Islamist attacks that have killed more than 250 people. It turned out that many of the attackers had grown up in the hopelessness of the banlieues, or slums. Macron’s visit to Mulhouse is also due to the current local election campaign. The candidates for Macron’s party La République En Marche trail in many cities and Macron sees an enormous vote potential for his movement is traditionally very conservative Alsace on the right side of the political spectrum.

Al-Nanour Mosque: a Symbol of France’s Ineffective Response to Radical Islam

One reason for the conservative forces in the region is the Al-Nanour mosque, which since 2009 has not been finished. The mosque was financed by an NGO from Qatar. Responsibility for the project in France has been an association of Muslims in Alsace, the Association des Musulmans d’Alsace, which is close to the Muslim Brotherhood. Since two journalists first published a book that exposed the funding sources, the French government has blocked further transfers from abroad. Now, 2.5 million Euros are missing to complete the project. It has become a symbol of how helpless the French state has become in the face of a radical Islam in its own country.

Macron has postponed his long-announced action plan several times. The issue is delicate, and the government is expected to present proposals and programs that differ from the feeble attempts of Macron’s predecessors. Macron has consulted many experts in the past weeks and months according to reports. Islamic scholar Gilles Keppel regularly talks to the president and several well-known authors have also been asked to speak by the president. All of this shows how seriously Macron takes the problem.

Macron’s Promise: ‘to Fight Decisively Against the Forces that Destroy National Unity’

Already when he spoke to the New Year, previously Macron announced his decision: “to fight decisively against the forces that destroy national unity.” The problem is old in France, but the choice of words is new. Macron has deliberately abandoned the term of parallel society in recent weeks and now seeks to fight what will be called separatism in the future. The term first appeared in 2016 during the so-called “Burkini affair”. While the parallel society is more of a symptom, the concept of separatism reflects the active will to want to separate and exclude oneself.

In terms of actual content, Macron’s action plan in its preliminary form comprises around 30 pages and explains how the state intends to fight “Islamist separatism and radicalism.” It is also about sharpening the instruments for a more reliable diagnosis of radicalism in sports clubs and schools and developing strategies to recapture the lost territories of the republic.

Naturally, Macron’s plan is considered controversial, particularly by the far-left. However, it will likely gain more proponents than opponents over the next months until the plan is officially implemented. Recent developments in France have urged Macron to act, and his fight against separatism is a coherent start.