New French PM Says Battle Against ‘Radical Islamism’ A Priority

Castex said a law to combat ‘separatism’ will be introduced after summer, but critics say Muslims will be targeted.

France’s newly-appointed Prime Minister, Jean Castex, has vowed to be “intransigent” in defending France’s official secularism, promising to fight “radical Islamism in all its forms” as “an absolute priority”.

Unveiling new government policy in Paris on Wednesday, Castex told the National Assembly that the French republic was being “shaken to its foundations” by “the coalition of its enemies – terrorists, conspiracy theorists, separatists and communitarians”.

Castex, a centre-right provincial mayor who graduated from the elite National School of Administration, said a new law to combat “separatism” would be introduced after the summer break.

It would aim to “avoid certain groups becoming closed in around ethnic or religious identities,” he said.

French President Emmanuel Macron also recently warned against anti-racist movements being taken over by “separatists”, after demonstrations against alleged police violence and racism in Paris – although the president did not say what he meant by the term.

Some members of France’s Muslim minority feel that the country’s official secularism is mainly brandished against them, although Macron himself has condemned divisive approaches to it.

Castex also set out a hard line on violence at demonstrations and petty crime, saying police would be given the resources they needed.

Local judges would be appointed to ensure “day-to-day anti-social behaviour” was punished swiftly, he said.