Mr Macron has announced he is working on structuring Islam in France in a bid to preserve national cohesion and rediscover the true meaning of “laïcité”.
France’s strict brand of secularism – the legal separation of religious and civic life –, also known as laïcité, is based on three key principles: freedom of conscience, a strict separation between church and state and the freedom to practice any faith.
But the French president’s plans to reform Islam in France “call into question” the 1905 law separating church and state, a spokesperson for France’s far-left Parti de Gauche (PG) party said on Monday.
Mr Macron told the French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche that he was working on reforming Islam in France in an effort to reduce the influence of Arab countries, fight extremism, better explain Islam and preserve national cohesion.
He said: “My goal is to rediscover what lies at the heart of laïcité.”
Laïcité was formalised in the 1905 law, which explicitly states that the French republic “neither recognises, nor salaries, nor subsidises any religion”.
Mr Macron’s reform plans were slammed by core members of the hardline leftist party who argued that the centrist government would be jeopardising the state’s secular principles by meddling in the religious affairs of French Muslims.
PG spokesperson Benoît Schenckenburger said in a statement: “The president’s plans to restructure Islam in France call into question the 1905 law separating church and state.
“The state cannot influence the organisation of Islamic institutions, cannot meddle in the training of imams and cannot weigh in on how Islam in France is to be financed.
“The proposed reforms would strip the state of its religious neutrality and would force it to take a stance on religious affairs.”
France’s right-wing The Republicans party, for its part, welcomed the president’s proposal.
Nadine Morano, conservative chief Laurent Wauquiez’s newly-appointed advisor, told France’s Europe 1 radio on Monday that the country has “a problem with Islam”.
“Yes, we have a problem with Islam. The religion is being derailed by radical Islamists. We must bring down radical political Islam.”
She added a reform of Islam in France as proposed by Mr Macron was “indispensable”.