France’s National Assembly approved a controversial anti-radicalism bill on Tuesday in a vote of 347 to 151 with 65 abstentions.
The bill would strengthen oversight of mosques and religious schools as part of a broader effort to counter extremism. The bill would also ban the issuance of virginity certificates. Virginity tests are usually demanded by fathers, brothers, and fiancés to insure a woman’s purity before marriage. The bill would punish any physician performing virginity tests with a year in prison or a fine of €15,000 (USD $18,153.00).
Under current French law, foreigners can be refused an extension of their residency permits if they are in polygamous marriages. While the new law seeks to enable polygamists to be expelled from France. Additionally, the new bill would seek to crack down on forced marriage, encouraging third parties to alert civil servants if there were suspicions that a marriage was going ahead without the consent of both parties.
It would also require all children three and over to be in school and tighten rules on the funding and functioning of mosques and religious associations, further cracking down on fundamentalist teaching.
Those in opposition consider the bill to be a political ploy for President Emmanuel Macron to win support from conservative and far-right voters ahead of next year’s presidential election. Protesters gathered in Paris over the weekend calling the proposed bill “islamophobic.” Islam is France’s second most practiced religion behind Christianity. The bill will now move to the Senate for a vote.