France’s Muslim community torn over Le Pen’s anti-immigration stance

World Today

FILE – In this April 19, 2017 file photo, far-right leader and candidate for the 2017 French presidential election Marine Le Pen speaks during a meeting in Marseille, southern France. Marine Le Pen, whose passion for politics and far-right values were forged in the cradle, is making her second bid for the French presidency, hoping this time to break through the ceiling of fear that stopped her father from winning in 2002. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen has raised much concern in the Muslim community with her controversial remarks on immigration. But that doesn’t mean some Muslims won’t vote for her.

The upcoming presidential election is dominating discussions on Beur FM’s daily talk show. The radio station caters mainly to France’s Muslim communities. CGTN’s Kate Parkinson reports from Paris.

Follow Kate Parkinson on Twitter @KTP_news

France's Muslim community torn over Le Pen's anti-immigration stance

The only female candidate in the French election, Marine Le Pen, has raised much concern in the Muslim community with many of her controversial remarks on immigration. But that doesn't mean Muslims won't vote for her.

Today they’re talking about politics and Islamophobia.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen – who could pull off a shock election win – has a reputation for being an anti-Islam.

She regularly takes aim at aspects of Muslim culture such as halal food, the veil, and the so-called Burkini swimsuits.

“It is toxic because the core of her political program is plainly Islamophobic. So she is not able to make any political proposition without targeting the Muslim community. It is the very definition of political Islamophobia,” Marwan Muhammad with Collective Against Islamophobia in France said.

It would be very easy to imagine that the idea of a Le Pen victory is cause for panic among French Muslims. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

In fact, at this mosque in a suburb of Paris, community leaders say many people won’t even bother voting.

“The Muslims think that she has no chance to become president. So they are, the Muslims, they are not excited, they are not motivated to go to this election,” M’Hammed Henniche with the Union of Muslim Associations said.

Back at Radio Beur, chief editor Abdelkrim Branine says even if she did win, it probably wouldn’t bother many of his listeners.

“Some people on my show say, ‘If Marine Le Pen comes to power, the next morning I’ll just wake up and have my breakfast as normal and we’ll see what happens’. Islamophobia already exists, attacks at mosques are already happening. Of course with Marine Le Pen, we imagine the worst. And that it could be worse. But I don’t think it’s something that traumatizes our listeners on a daily basis.”

What is perhaps more surprising is that some Muslims will actually vote for Le Pen.

“She is not hiding it, she doesn’t pretend to be our friend, and she doesn’t pretend to be some progressive politician. She hates Muslim minorities and she builds her whole political program based on this, but at least she has the honesty to say it. That’s the narrative behind people who vote for the Front National,” Marwan Muhammad added.

Win or lose Marine Le Pen has changed the political landscape in France, and brought hate into the mainstream.