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Most Jews back French crackdown on radical Islam, targeting religious activities

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JTA — As the French government rolls out a controversial plan that amounts to its most robust crackdown on religious activity in decades, it is enjoying broad support from at least one of the country’s faith communities: French Jews.

Jewish community leaders have applauded President Emmanuel Macron’s effort to counter what he calls “Islamist separatism” with a plan that would require children to attend state-recognized schools from the age of three, effectively barring the practice of Muslim home-schooling, and mandate an oath of allegiance to the state from religious associations.

The new plan would also increase oversight of foreign funding for mosques and end a program that allows the children of immigrants to receive subsidized lessons in their parents’ native language. While the new measures do not explicitly target French Muslims, which would be barred by the French constitution, Macron has made clear that they are aimed at “isolating radical Islam.”

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“We need to reconquer all that the republic has ceded, and which has led part of our youth and citizens to be attracted to this radical Islam,” Macron said in an Oct. 2 speech near Paris.

“We will act starting today, with a lot of force and determination on the ground. It’s underway,” he said.

The plan, which is scheduled to be brought before the National Assembly later this year, has been widely condemned by Muslims, both in France and beyond, as an attack on their faith. In Gaza, protesters burned posters of Macron, and in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the plan as part of a legacy of European crimes against religious minorities that includes the Holocaust. Erdogan’s comment last week that Macron needs “mental treatment” prompted France to recall its ambassador from Ankara. Palestinians burn a picture of French President Macron’s during a protest against his remarks on the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on October 27, 2020. (Photo by ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)

In France, some left-wing Jews oppose the plan for similar reasons. Maxime Benatouil of the Jewish-French Union for Peace, which supports a blanket boycott of Israel, said in a statement that the plan is motivated by racist hatred, juxtaposing it with what the Nazis and their collaborators did........

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