Macron’s Party Pulls Support from Candidate for Wearing a Hijab in Campaign Flyer

French President Emanuel Macron reacts as he welcomes Argentina's President ahead of a lunch meeting at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, on May 12, 2021. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP) (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images)
LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images

French president Emmanuel Macron’s party has pulled support from one of its candidates in a local election after she wore a hijab in a campaign flyer.

Stanislas Guerini, the head of La République En Marche, President Macron’s party, said that they would not support Sara Zemmahi if she did not produce new campaign promotional material without the hijab.

Although wearing the Islamic headscarf as a political candidate is not prohibited by law in France, the En Marche leader argued that the party would prohibit any religious symbols from being affiliated with their political movement.

“I say things very clearly. With the governing bodies of the party, I set a political line. We do not question the law. But the law also says that political movements can decide on the support given to their candidates,” Guerini told the French radio station RTL on Tuesday.

“Our political movement considers that ostentatious religious symbols have no place on a campaign poster as part of an electoral campaign,” he added.

“We do not have to display an ostentatious religious sign, whatever the religion,” Guerini continued.

The pronouncement came in response to a post on social media by Jordan Bardella — who serves as Marine Le Pen’s deputy in the right-wing populist party National Rally (RN) — in which he shared an image of Gurini in her hijab alongside the question: “Is this how you fight separatism?”

Bardella was referencing President Macron’s vow to fight Islamic “separatism” in the wake of several high-profile terror attacks last year. Mr Macron warned of the creation of a “parallel society” of radical Muslims who have festered in the country, rejecting France’s liberal values.

The issue of radical Islam and mass migration have increasingly taken centre stage in French politics ahead of the presidential election next year.

The left-liberal President Macron has seemingly moved to the right on many issues surrounding radical Islam in France. However, he has been facing significant opposition on several fronts.

Mr Macron is currently neck-and-neck in the polls with populist leader Marine Le Pen, who has consistently opposed mass migration into France.

Another possible challenger in the 2022 elections is the European Union’s former Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier. This week the centre-right politician stunningly came out in favour of a three- to five-year moratorium on immigration to France, citing concerns over terror networks infiltrating the country.

Macron has also seen military figures warn of a potential civil war in France if he fails to meaningfully confront the issue of Islamism in combination with radical leftist ideology. Open letters signed by the former and active military officials sent shockwaves through the political establishment in France.

On Sunday, a group of allegedly active servicemen signed the second of these letters anonymously. Like the first letter, it was published in the right-wing magazine Valeurs Actuelles.

The government denounced the missive, arguing that current military officials should not intervene in the political sphere, even going so far as to threaten potential action against the enlisted signatories of the letter.

The military group had said in the second letter: “These people who fought against all the enemies of France, you have treated them as factious, when their only fault is to love their country and to mourn its visible downfall.

“We see violence in our towns and villages. We see communitarianism taking hold in public space, in public debate. We see hatred for France and its history becoming the norm.

“It may not be for the military to say that, you will argue. Quite the contrary: because we are apolitical in our assessments of the situation, it is a professional observation that we deliver. Because we have seen this decline in many countries in crisis. It precedes the collapse.”

The group of anonymous military officials again alluded to a coming civil war in France, writing: “No one can want such a terrible situation, our superiors no more than we do, but yes, again, civil war is brewing in France, and you know it perfectly well.”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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