Islamophobia wins French elections
The far right in France has been normalized because anti-Muslim policies have been peddled by the government. Macron must now face the damage he caused by waging war on Muslims but is unlikely to be reformed, Mobashra Tazamal.
Macron is unlikely to address the racist and xenophobic policies he introduced targeting the nearly 6 million Muslims in France. [GETTY]
Emmanuel Macron triumphed in the 2022 presidential elections, closing a campaign cycle in which anti-Muslim racism took center stage. For the second time, the former investment banker beat Marine Le Pen, rejecting the possibility of a far-right presidency. However, this time the victory was narrower as Le Pen secured almost 42% of the vote, sending a clear signal that a significant part of the Republic aligns itself with its racist and discriminatory views and policies.
For French Muslims, the results marked the end of a toxic campaign, where the candidates placed them at the center of the debate, trying to compete with each other by restricting their rights and freedoms. This year’s election left them between a rock and a hard place, as Macron spent the last five years instituting Le Pen’s agenda and criminalizing the community.
From his ‘anti-separatism law’ to the ‘imam’s charter’, Macron has sought to create a ‘French Islam’, a statement that sounds suspiciously like China’s genocidal campaign against the Uyghurs, as Beijing also seeks to create a state-sanctioned Islam. . Ultimately, Macron’s strategy of the past half-decade has essentially relegated French Muslims to second-class citizenship, forcing them to choose between their faith and a country that has never considered them sufficiently French.
“Given that Macron has never acknowledged his role in promoting Islamophobia, it is likely that anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies will persist during his second term. He has given no indication that he will reverse his previous discriminatory actions.
In recent years, the Macron government has scapegoated French Muslims to distract from its own failures in managing the economy, security, education, etc. and dissent. He weaponized the violent events to institute sweeping policies aimed at collectively punishing the country’s nearly 6 million Muslims.
Its Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, is very proud of the closure of mosques, Islamic schools and Muslim organizations, including the CCIFthe country’s leading anti-Islamophobia body that it [Darmanin] called “the enemy of the republic”. On immigration, the Macron government has deported dozens of individuals under the guise of fighting “Islamic terrorism” and arrested countless others. Darmanin has been very public about his hatred of Muslims referrer to the community as the “enemy within”.
The former investment banker spent his first term creating conspiracy theories about an alliance between ‘Islamists’ (a vague and indefinite term intended for any Muslim who dares to express political dissent) and leftists in academia , its Minister of Education promising to carry out an investigation. in “Islamo-leftism(Islamo-leftism) in the universities.
Unlike 2017, this time Le Pen has made an effort to soften his picture, emphasizing issues such as the rising cost of living and emphasizing her role as a single mother. One thing that has never changed for the far-right leader National Gatheringwas his uncompromising view on Islam, Muslims and immigration.
In his 2022 campaign, Le Pen promised to dismantle France immigration laws by stopping family reunification and removing birthright-based citizenship, by defending its policies by legitimizing the far-right conspiracy theory of the Great Replacement. She sought to institutionalize discrimination by giving only to French citizens to access to social benefits and granting preferential treatment to French nationals in terms of access to social housing and employment. Le Pen also promised to ban the hijab in all public spaces, ban ritual slaughter restricting Muslims’ and Jews’ access to kosher and halal meat, strip French citizenship of people considered to have “extreme Islamist opinions” and to close mosques that contradict the French. values. It was Le Pen’s platform and four out of 10 French voters OK with and supported.
A recent article by Katy Brown, Aurelien Mondon and Aaron Winter have argued that the mainstream is a fluid concept, constantly changing and transforming, and that how we categorize the far right is often in relation to what we identify as mainstream. When it comes to anti-Muslim fanaticism, there is no precise way to categorize Le Pen as far-right and maintain that Macron is somehow moderate. It was Macron’s own interior minister who accused Le Pen of being “too lenient with Islam”. When it comes to Islamophobia, there is no distinction between “mainstream” and “extreme right”.
Would Le Pen have proposed to ban the hijab in all public spaces if Macron had not already taken this step forward by putting forward a amendment last year who would ban the hijab for people under 18? Would Le Pen have promised to close mosques contrary to “French values” if Macron had not already done so for the past five years? Macron played a vital role in Le Pen’s rise and popularity; he made his opinions acceptable to the public. When it comes to Islam and Muslims, there is little difference between Le Pen’s promises and Macron’s actions.
The global shift to the right has occurred in large part because of the acceptance and endorsement of anti-Muslim bigotry, xenophobia and racism. From the United States to France, majority white populations have embraced a narrative centered on identifying the “true” citizen and the “untrustworthy, foreign, and violent other.”
This anti-Muslim bigotry has seeped into the whole society and is accepted across the political spectrum. In recent elections in Western countries, it has been Muslims who have had to shoulder the burden of choosing a candidate who may be a notch better for the country but detrimental to themselves. Should Muslims continue to sacrifice their basic rights for a larger society that constantly demonizes and otherizes them?
French Muslims have too often been removed from the conversation about French identity, instead they have been positioned as everything that France is not. In his victory speech, Macron sworn to be “the president of us all”, but does this “us” include the 6 million Muslims of France? Will Macron speak in their interests or will he continue his administration’s policy of making them second-class citizens? Will he guarantee their rights and freedoms to practice their faith or will he continue to criminalize expressions of Muslim religiosity? Will it really serve to unite the country or will the policies of division and scapegoating persist?
Given that Macron has never acknowledged his role in promoting Islamophobia, the anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies are likely to persist into his second term. He gave no indication that he would reverse his previous discriminatory actions.
Moreover, Macron has not announced any tangible effort he will undertake to genuinely unite the country – central to that promise is to address the concerns of French Muslims, which he has yet to do. While the public may have resisted a far-right presidency, there is no doubt that Islamophobia has taken firm hold in France today and Macron’s re-election has played a significant role in that development. .
Mobashra Tazamal is associate director of The Bridge Initiative, a research project on Islamophobia, at Georgetown University. His work has appeared in Al Jazeera, The Independent, Middle East Eye and AltMuslimah.
Follow her on Twitter: @mobbiemobes
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