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French Muslims vote for ‘whoever spits of their face least’

PARIS (RNS) — Is there a “Muslim vote” in France? If that’s the case, the place is it and who’s it rooting for?

These questions are confounding political strategists as they analyze the outcomes of President Emmanuel Macron’s reelection Sunday (April 24) and their hopes of forging a majority in Parliament in June.

France’s Muslim minority, estimated at about 8% of the 68 million inhabitants, was one of many essential points within the presidential election. Sadly for the Muslims, the dialogue was largely damaging, typically stridently so.

Far-right candidates spoke about banning the Muslim scarf and combating Islamist radicalism. A middle-right hopeful echoed the “nice alternative” conspiracy concept that Muslims would take over France. Macron and his centrists burdened their measures towards “Islamist separatism.”

So 69% of Muslim voters supported the far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon on April 10 within the first spherical of the presidential election, in line with the pollster Ifop. His outspoken stand towards anti-Muslim intolerance helped earned him a robust third place, simply behind far-right chief Marine Le Pen.

For the runoff, he didn’t urge his left-wing supporters to again Macron however did hammer residence the message that they may by no means vote for Le Pen. So for Sunday’s second spherical, the Muslim neighborhood voted 85% for Macron, once more in line with Ifop.

Centrist candidate and French President Emmanuel Macron, left, and far-right contender Marine Le Pen pose earlier than a televised debate in La Plaine-Saint-Denis, outdoors Paris, April 20, 2022. (Ludovic Marin, Pool through AP)

In each instances, it was, because the French say, a selection between plague and cholera. “Muslims (are) compelled to assist whoever spits of their face the least,” mentioned Nagib Azergui, head of the small French Muslim Democrats occasion, or UDMF.

As Lyon political science professor Haoues Seniguer places it, France has no “Muslim vote” however does have “Muslim voters.”

Campaigning for the two-round parliamentary vote, due on June 12 and 19, started even earlier than Macron received the presidential runoff with 58.5% on Sunday. The combat for swing voters is on the left, so the president started touring the tough suburban cities the place many Muslims reside.

Macron has lots to reside down. A recent face when he first ran in 2017, he now has a document of 5 years of more and more robust measures culminating in a regulation towards “Islamist separatism,” his time period for Muslim radicalization.

The regulation handed in early 2021 after the homicide by decapitation of a trainer for exhibiting pupils caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. Repeated Islamist assaults in France in recent times have boosted requires an official crackdown, which Muslim leaders say would unfairly goal Muslims, the overwhelming majority of whom are peaceable. 

The regulation empowers officers to shut locations selling hate, require non secular contributions from overseas to be declared if greater than 10,000 euros, tighten laws on residence education and wonderful docs who carry out virginity exams.

Clearly concentrating on radical Muslims, the regulation has led to an estimated 700 closures of locations decided to be “frequented by fundamentalists,” together with mosques, sports activities golf equipment, non-public colleges and eating places.

Macron’s Cupboard ministers of the inside, training and citizenship have promoted a strict model of France’s official laïcité (secularism) coverage that the far proper additionally makes use of to agitate towards Muslims. 

“He protects three ministers who make him appear like a fascist, whereas his personal remarks on this topic are quite measured and balanced,” Lova Rinel of an anti-discrimination group referred to as Pluriel advised the day by day Le Monde. “We don’t perceive, it is not sensible.”

FILE- Marine Le Pen walks on stage, at a National Rally event in Frejus, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021. French nationalist Marine Le Pen has softened her rhetoric and her image as she tries to unseat centrist President Emmanuel Macron in the upcoming election, taking place in two rounds on April 10 and 24. She is honing in on the pocketbook issues that voters care about most. But the woman who has been known for her fierce anti-immigration stance is also facing a challenge from TV pundit Eric Zemmour, a more provocative candidate who styles himself after Donald Trump and embraces racist conspiracies. Their rivalry illustrates France’s tilt toward the hard right. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole, File)

Marine Le Pen walks on stage at a Nationwide Rally occasion in Frejus, France, Sept. 12, 2021. (AP Picture/Daniel Cole, File)

The sturdy Muslim vote for Macron within the second spherical included many ballots not for him however towards Le Pen, whom a number of Muslim leaders referred to as on their followers to defeat.

One other issue weakening that apparently sturdy exhibiting is that Ifop mentioned 42% of Muslim voters abstained within the second spherical.

Mélenchon hopes to translate his sturdy assist right into a parliamentary majority that would make him the No. 2 man of the Macron presidency.

“I urge the French to elect me prime minister,” he mentioned, even earlier than Macron had received the second spherical. Posters and pamphlets with a photograph of “Prime Minister Mélenchon” are actually being distributed throughout France.

He hopes to kind a parliamentary majority with deputies from the ecologists, communists and different small leftist events. They might then change the structure, increase salaries for the poor and taxes for the wealthy, assure jobs, promote clear vitality, annul the separatism regulation, reform Europe and depart NATO.

Muslim assist would presumably be one pillar of this majority.

FILE - Women wait in line before voting for the first round of the presidential election at a polling station Sunday, April 10, 2022 in the Malpasse northern district of Marseille, southern France. French voters head to polls on Sunday in a runoff vote between centrist incumbent Emmanuel Macron and nationalist rival Marine Le Pen, wrapping up a campaign that experts have seen as unusually dominated by discriminatory discourse and proposals targeting immigration and Islam. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole, File)

Ladies wait in line earlier than voting for the primary spherical of the presidential election at a polling station April 10, 2022, within the Malpasse northern district of Marseille, southern France. French voters headed to the polls April 24 in a runoff between centrist incumbent Emmanuel Macron and nationalist rival Marine Le Pen, wrapping up a marketing campaign that consultants have seen as unusually dominated by discriminatory discourse and proposals concentrating on immigration and Islam. (AP Picture/Daniel Cole, File)

Negotiations among the many squabbling left-wing events have begun however Mélenchon has no assure his Common Union proposal will succeed.

First, it has to win an general majority, which isn’t positive. Even when he does, the French Structure says the president chooses the prime minister, not the deputies. And Macron is unlikely to choose a rival reminiscent of Mélenchon as his prime minister.

“Coalitions are by no means constructed round radical figures, however at all times round centrists,” mentioned Jean-Philippe Derosier of the Jean Jaurès Fondation suppose tank.

Whereas some Muslims hope Mélenchon will succeed, the chances are high that he is not going to and Muslim voters will as soon as once more discover no occasion in Parliament that clearly represents their pursuits.

Mohammed Colin, director of the Muslim web site SaphirNews, mentioned an important side of the entire election was the continued rise of the far proper, made evident by the historic 41.5% consequence for Le Pen.

“The shadow of Le Pen has already crossed the edge of the Élysée,” he wrote, referring to the presidential palace.

“We now have a respite of 5 years and the countdown has already begun. If nothing is completed by then, our nation will fall into the claws of the beast. Sure, that’s the pressure of gravity proper now … winter is coming.”

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