Valérie Pécresse, the president of the Ile-de-France region, which includes Paris, has denounced what she called "urban separatism" and said eradicating Islamism was impossible without breaking up France's urban ghettos.
"We can't eradicate Islamism if we do not break up urban ghettos," Pécresse said in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche (JDD). "These ghettos...favour selfishness, community withdrawal and indoctrination.
"The government turns its head when confronted by this urban separatism," she added, expressing regret that a plan to address the issue of France's "banlieues" (suburbs) had been nipped in the bud two years ago.
The banlieues have been the subject of heated debate for decades, spilling over into various other issues, most recently radicalisation and police violence.
Pécresse, a former minister in the right-wing government of Nicolas Sarkozy, is considered a potential candidate for upcoming presidential elections in 2022.
'Islamism is the enemy'
The Ile-de-France president said there was a clear link between immigration and terrorism. "You would have to be blind not to see it," she affirmed, but said it was not the only cause.
"The enemy is Islamism. This ideology that brainwashes French people and migrants and pushes them to take up arms against France," she told JDD.
After months of debate, President Emmanuel Macron's anti-separatism bill to fight radical Islam, renamed the bill on "reinforcing republican principles", is due to be presented to ministers on Wednesday.
It would make schooling compulsory from the age of three, improve protection of public servants against threats and ramp up checks of associations and religious organisations in the spirit of the 1905 law on the separation of Church and State.