US envoy 'concerned' about religious freedom in France

US envoy ‘concerned’ about religious freedom in France


Washington: The U.S. Special Envoy for International Religious Freedom expressed concern over French allies on Tuesday and warned that President Emmanuel Macron had taken “strong hand” measures when he targeted radical Islam.

“I am concerned, obviously, for what s happening in France,” Ambassador Sam Brownback told reporters when asked about Macron s initiative.

“There can be constructive engagements that I think can be helpful and not harmful.

“When you get heavy-handed, the situation can get worse.”

Macron has ordered a crackdown on extremism amid shock in France over the October 16 beheading of a teacher who showed pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed and the stabbing to death of three people in a church in Nice on October 29.

Under this initiative, France is a secularized place and is home to the largest Muslim community in Europe. If the authorities find a mosque during the inspection to promote extremism, they will close the mosque.

Brownback condemned violent expression of religion but said: “If you re peacefully practicing your faith, you re entitled to practice that faith.”

“We think that countries do best when they work with religious leaders on identifying concerns and problem areas and not get into disagreements with religious groups,” Brownback said.

“They have their fundamental religious freedom rights and those need to be honored and protected by the government.”

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