By Cindi Cook
PARIS (AA) - France's Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said Friday it would be a criminal offense for Muslim parents to be upset with a teacher for showing caricatures of Prophet Muhammad in lessons to their children.
"Parents who go to a teacher to tell them to stop teaching cartoons protected by freedom of speech, tomorrow that will be a criminal. offense," he said during an interview with Europe 1. They could face prosecution, even deportation.
"And a judge can -- this is extremely important -- a judge will be able to say, 'If you're a foreigner who commits this crime, you can leave this country.'"
French President Emmanuel Macron pledged a crackdown against what he called, “Islamist separatism" to defend France's secular values, and argued that controversial cartoons should be defended on free speech grounds.
Critics, however, accused Macron of politically exploiting recent terror attacks, adopting a populist far-right discourse about Muslims in an attempt to appeal to right-wing voters.
Macron took steps Wednesday to impose a "charter of Republican values" on the Muslim community and gave a 15-day deadline for the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) to accept the charter.
Eight leaders of the CFCM met with Macron and Darmanin at the Elysee Palace for talks Wednesday.
In a return of good faith, the CFCM will create a National Council of Imams to offer official accreditation to imams living on French soil, according to media reports.
Macron's charter of Republican values will forbid "foreign interference" in Muslim groups and will state explicitly that Islam is not a political movement but a religion.