France threatens home-schooler parents with six-months in jail in 'anti-extremism' drive

France threatens home-schooler parents with six-months in jail in 'anti-extremism' drive
France will introduce an identification number system to help enforce the controversial legislation.
3 min read
19 November, 2020
President Emmanuel Macron has been accused of unfairly targeting Muslims [Getty]

France is moving to outlaw home schooling with new legislation unveiled on Wednesday that threatens to jail parents for up to six months if they fail to send their children to school.

The move comes as part of President Emmanuel Macron's controversial 'anti-seperatism' drive, which activists say targets Muslim groups.

The bill will ban children being taught primarily at home, in an effort to prevent young people from falling under the influence of extremists.

It is estimated that some 50,000 children are currently home-schooled in France.

The bill proposes that home schooling will only be allowed  when attendance is "impossible for reasons relating to (the child's) situation or that of the family". Parents who break the law will face six months in prison and a fine of €7,500 ($8,875). 

Authorities plan to register children with identification numbers to help enforce the law.

The controversial bill follows claims by French politicians that some Muslim families are refusing to allow children to go to school.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said girls were being prevented from receiving an education.

"In some areas, there are more boys than girls when we know that statistically, more girls are born. It's a scandal," he said.

Darmanin, alongside Macron, has been criticised for his remarks on Muslims and Islam. In October, the minister expressed outrage at the existence of halal food aisles in supermarkets, drawing broth criticism and mockery from observers and opposition politicians.

"In his retaliation against 'communitarian cuisine', does Darmanin also propose to ban Easter eggs and advent calendars from supermarkets?" said leftist MEP Manon Aubry at the time.


France's wide-ranging crackdown, aimed at preserving the country's secular values, has been slammed by observers as an assault on civil liberties and free speech.

As well as banning home schooling, France is also moving to impose restrictions on religious and sexual education, threatening religious groups and places of worship with closure and empowering local authorities to refuse gender-segregated swimming sessions.

Read more: Macron gives French Muslim leaders 15 days to 'admit' Islam is an 'apolitical religion'

President Macron has also told French Muslim leaders to draw up a charter within 15 days which admits Islam is an apolitical religion. 

Macron has defended France's strict brand of secularism, sparking a backlash from Muslims around the world who believe he has singled out their faith.

Prior to terror attacks in October that galvanised the 'anti-separatism' drive, Macron had promised a tough new campaign against "Islamism" which had drew international condemnation.

Protests against Macron's perceived Islamophobia erupted have across the Muslim world, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mali, Mauritania, Lebanon and Yemen.

World leaders have also weighed in on the matter, with Macron and Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan trading barbs and insults. 

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