PARENTS in France who home-school their children could be jailed for six months under new laws cracking down on Islamist extremism.
The legislation is intended to stop kids being brainwashed amid growing fears that hardliners are trying to create a separate society for Muslims.
It comes after President Emmanuel Macron vowed a crackdown on radical Islamists following the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty last month.
Currently an estimated 50,000 children in France are home schooled.
Ministers say some Muslims are refusing to let children attend school – and girls especially are being denied an education.
Interior minister Gérald Darmanin said: “In some areas, there are more boys than girls (in school) when we know that statistically, more girls are born. It’s a scandal.”
A bill unveiled yesterday makes it a crime to teach children at home – unless going to school is “impossible for reasons relating to (the child’s) situation or that of the family”.
Parents who break the law face a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a €7,500 fine.
To enforce the ban, every child in France will now be given an identification number.
Muslim and Catholic schools will still be allowed but face stricter controls, ministers said.
Head teachers who fail to respect secular French values could be jailed for up to a year under the new law.
Other new measures include ensuring schools can resist radical demands to tone down religious or sexual education lessons.
Local councils will get powers to refuse separate swimming times for men and women, mosques will be forced to reveal overseas funding, and police will prosecute people for online hate speech.
It is part of Mr Macron’s wider crackdown against attempts by hardliners to impose “Islamist separatism” in some areas of France.
The president says there has been a “conscious, political project” seeking to create a “counter-society” that obeys Islamic law.
He also wants to tackle the terrorism that grows out of it.
Of the 30 most recent terrorists who committed murder on French soil, some 22 were homegrown, according to the interior ministry.
Last month Mr Darmanin said he was making moves to kick out 231 suspected radicals on an extremist watchlist.
It followed the murder of Mr Paty outside his school near Paris by a teenage Chechen refugee.
The teacher was allegedly targeted after a campaign by Muslim parents who were angry he showed pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a lesson on free speech.
Less than a fortnight later, a church warden and two worshippers were murdered by a Tunisian terrorist in Nice.
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Mr Macron’s tough words on Islamism sparked anger in the Muslim world, with large protests in Indonesia, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed France was treating Muslims as badly as Jews were persecuted in the 1930s.
And ISIS called on followers to launch attacks against France in revenge.