France had to officially deny plans to track all Muslim children with ID tags after fake story went viral
- France has denounced a false viral claim that the government will require all Muslim schoolchildren to have an ID tag.
- On Wednesday, France set out a new bill that aims to prevent Islamic-separatism by giving all children in France an identification number to make sure they are attending school. France is concerned that home-schooling and drop-outs often lead to radicalization.
- However, a viral claim on social media said only Muslim children would be tagged, leading Pakistan's human rights minister to accuse Macron of "doing to Muslims what the Nazis did to the Jews."
- France's ministry for European and foreign affairs tweeted Sunday that the claims were "absolutely false."
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
The French government has moved to quash a viral fake news story that said it was assigning every Muslim child an ID tag.
Late last week, President Emmanuel Macron was accused of Islamophobia by politicians and social commentators who amplified falsehoods that said France wanted to monitor Muslim children following a string of terror attacks.
The backlash started on Wednesday, after Macron outlined details of a new bill that aims to stamp out Islamic-separatism. Under the bill, all children will be assigned an ID number, so their attendance at school can be ensured.
However, reams of tweets and news reports claimed it was just Muslim children that would be targeted.
"Any so-called information pertaining to alleged intent to register children being schooled in France based on religion, belief or origin, is absolutely false," The Ministry for European and Foreign Affairs wrote in a tweet Sunday.
Any so-called information pertaining to alleged intent to register children being schooled in France based on religion, belief or origin, is absolutely false.— France Diplomacy???? (@francediplo_EN) November 22, 2020
One of those who proliferated the fake news was Shireen Mazari, Pakistan's minister for human rights, who tweeted Saturday that "Macron is doing to Muslims what the Nazis did to the Jews."
Mazari later deleted the tweet, and clarified that the information was incorrect.
France is concerned that children who drop out of school, or are excessively home schooled, are in danger of being radicalized. "We must save our children from the clutches of the Islamists," interior minister Gérald Darmanin told Le Figaro on Wednesday.
The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs tweeted Sunday: "All children must attend school. Home schooling will be limited to exceptional circumstances."
Every child in France who attends a state school already has a number, called "identifiant national élève," but the new bill aims to assign home and private schooled children one too. The bill is to be discussed by French ministers on December 9.
Macron's criticism of Islam sparks a backlash
The backlash is the latest episode in a tense feud between France and the Muslim world that has been brewing for the last five years.
France experienced several terror attacks this autumn: the beheading of Paris schoolteacher Samuel Paty on October 16, the killing of three people at a church in Nice on October 29, and the shooting of a Greek Orthodox priest in Lyon on October 30.
Paty was killed after showing his class cartoons that mocked the Prophet Muhammad, which were published by the magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015. Two extremists killed 12 magazine staff members in Paris after the cartoons were first published.
Since 2015, 276 people have been killed in 72 terror attacks in France.
Macron said on October 1, 2020, that Islam is "a religion in crisis all over the world."
In response, France recalled its ambassador from Ankara.
Macron, who has defended secularism, known as lacité in France, said France would not censor people to avoid causing offense. "I will always defend in my country the freedom to speak, to write, to think, to draw," he said on November 1.
Receive a daily news update on your cellphone. Or get the best of our site emailed to you.
Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.