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France’s Macron Vows To Fight ‘Islamist Separatism’

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French president Emmanuel Macron has on Friday unveiled a plan to defend France’s secular values against what he termed as “Islamist radicalism”.

Macron in an address aimed at solving a problem of growing “radicalisation” in the country and improving “our ability to live together” said the measures include placing mosques under greater control and requiring that imams are trained and certified in France. The aim would be to “liberate French Islam from foreign influences”, he said, particularly funding.

He said radical Islam was a danger to France because it held its own laws above all others and “often results in the creation of a counter-society”. Islamic organizations that receive funding from the French state will have to sign a “secular charter”.

The French president insisted “no concessions” would be made in a new drive to push religion out of education and the public sector in France.

Macron said “Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world today, we are not just seeing this in our country,” adding that this form of sectarianism often translated into children being kept out of school, and the use of sporting, cultural and other community activities as a “pretext to teach principles that do not conform to the laws of the republic”.

He said secularism is the cement of a united France,” but added that there was no sense in stigmatising all Muslim believers.

He announced that the government would present a bill in December to strengthen a 1905 law that officially separated church and state in France.

The law permits people to belong to any faith of their choosing, Macron said, but outward displays of religious affiliation would be banned in schools and the public service.

Muslims in France have roundly condemned the violence, and some reacted angrily to  Macron’s proposals on Friday.

Reacting to the president’s speech, Yasser Louati, a French Muslim activist, tweeted “The repression of Muslims has been a threat, now it is a promise. In a one hour speech #Macron burried #laicite, emboldened the far right, anti-Muslim leftists and threatened the lives of Muslim students by calling for drastic limits on home schooling despite a global pandemic.”

France has the largest population of Muslims in Western Europe. Many complain the authorities use secularism to specifically target them, for instance in banning the hijab.

Islam is increasingly seen as a threat to France’s core values in the wake of several terror attacks targeting secular liberties such as freedom of expression.

Health News

UK Approves Pfizer/BioNTech COVID Vaccine For Rollout Next Week

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The United Kingdom has on Wednesday approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine opening the way for mass immunization which will begin next week for those most at risk across the UK.

Before decisions by the US and Europe, the British government has become the first western country to license a vaccine against Covid after it was authorized for emergency use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA)

The MHRA was given power to approve the vaccine by the government under special regulations before 1 January, when it will become fully responsible for medicines authorization in the UK after Brexit.

Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine which the UK has bought 40m doses has shown to be 95% effective in its final trials with no serious side effects against a virus that’s killed nearly 1.5 million persons globally.

According to a Department of Health and Social Care spokesman “the government has today accepted the recommendation from the MHRA to approve Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine for use.

It added in the statement that “this follows months of rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA who have concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness

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Health News

Canada: COVID-19 Death Toll Exceeds 12000

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Canada’s COVID-19 deaths have passed another grim milestone of 12, 000 fatalities.

The country also recorded fifty-four hundred sixty-eight new cases of coronavirus infections which pushed the total number of confirmed cases to 370,014.  More than 290,000 persons have recovered from the virus.

A new report from an epidemiological analysis showed about 90 per cent of those who died were seniors, from 70 years and older.

The data also shows a significant increase in patients hospitalized from the virus.

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World News

New York City Will Reopen Elementary Schools And Reduce Hybrid Learning

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New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio has confirmed public elementary schools will begin reopening next Monday.

The largest public school system in the country closed in November when the city reached a seven-day covid-19 testing positivity average of 3%.

Meanwhile, middle and high schools will remain closed. There are more than one million students in New York City’s public school system, and around 330,000 students could be eligible to return to school under this plan.

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