This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of January, a monthly overview of the most significant results of our monitoring of traditional and new media in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, and the United Kingdom.
Date of publication: 18 January 2019
Media outlet: Valeurs Actuelles, conservative magazine
Author: Agnès Thill, La République En Marche (LREM) MP in the French national assembly. The Valeurs Actuelles reporter is Bastien Lejeune
Headline: “Medically assisted procreation and Koranic schools: Agnès Thill's controversy, the symptom of progressive sectarianism”
Description of the anti-Muslim content:At a French parliamentary debate, Agnès Thill, MP of President Macron’s party LREM, presented a note to the National Assembly expressing her opposition to the new law on medically assisted procreation (known in France as PMA). Regarding the introduction of the word “parent”, to replace “mother” and “father”, she said that “this absence of gender in the word ‘parent’ will encourage the growth of Koranic schools”. Her note reads: “Our Muslim friends, who, as we know, are against this gradual distancing from the concepts of father-mother, man-woman, for the word parent include parent 1 and parent, [...] live in a parallel world, in our Republic, where everything is as they want, where a man is a man, a woman is a woman, and there are not, for our Muslim friends, parent1 and parent2”. According to Agnès Thill, the introduction of the PMA law would “lead moderate children to become less moderate teenagers”. In this article, the right wing magazine Valeurs Actuelles, does not criticise her anti-Muslim and homophobic remarks, but simply points out how unusual it is for a LREM politician to hold these views. The controversy is presented as “a new example of the majority's difficulties to tolerate divergent views”. The reporter writes: “Agnès Thill's crime? To be the only one in her parliamentary group to defend the idea of a real debate about medically assisted procreation”. Last November, Agnès Thill came under attack from many, including her own political party, for saying that the “powerful LGBT lobby” was influencing the debate on the PMA. In a video interview at the end of January, she compared the “suffering of single women” who want to use the PMA to “drug addicts”: “If a drug addict suffers, do we give them drugs? If a woman is suffering, do we give her a child so that she stops suffering?” A child is not a type of medicine”.
Myth debunked: In vocalising her opposition to the law, Agnès Thill is proposing a gender binary which is intolerant of other gender identities and of any family that is not heteronormative. And at the same time uses the opportunity to accuse French Muslims of being homophobic because they have more gendered roles of mother and father, or a traditional family structure. In her opinion, the state moving away from the mother-father and woman-man dichotomy, Muslim people would turn to their own communities’ schools, which, she says, are more prone to radicalising the children than the public institutions. In saying so, she is insinuating a correlation between attending an Islamic school and Islamic fundamentalism. When mentioning the expected effect of the law on the Muslim community, Agnès Thill is attributing her own homophobic views to Muslims and, at the same time, using them as the reason for her objection to the law.
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