Facing criticism, Le Pen allies temper rhetoric on hijab ban

Marine Le Pen, candidate of France’s far-right Rassemblement national (National Rally) party in the 2022 French presidential election, speaks during a campaign rally in Avignon, France, April 14, 2022. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/File Photo

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  • Critics say banning hijab would be unconstitutional
  • Questions related to Islam, a hot topic in France
  • Macron still presented as the likely winner in opinion polls

PARIS, April 18 (Reuters) – A planned ban on wearing the hijab if French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is elected would come “little by little” and be determined by lawmakers, her allies said on Monday, marking a change of tone less than a week in advance. of the final presidential vote.

The far-right core of Le Pen’s agenda has come under greater scrutiny as the campaign enters its final days.

Louis Aliot, the far-right mayor of Perpignan and former life partner of Le Pen, said in an interview with France Inter radio that the hijab ban was one of many political tools to fight “the Islamism”, but that its implementation should come “gradually”.

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The ban should first target public services, he said, before being broadened “little by little”. “There will be a debate in parliament and then the choice will be made,” he said.

Another Le Pen ally, David Rachline, the mayor of the Mediterranean town of Fréjus, also appeared to soften his stance on Monday. “We don’t want to attack people…all these women wearing the hijab are not Islamists,” he said.

Le Pen previously said the hijab could not be considered a sign of a person’s religious belief, but was an “Islamist uniform” that should be banned from French public space.

With six days to go until the final vote in the eurozone’s second-largest economy, Le Pen has never been closer to the Elysée, but his dramatic rise in the opinion polls appeared to stagnate after the first round as Macron stepped up. his campaign.

Major polls still show Macron as the likely winner, albeit by a narrow margin.

An Ipsos poll for France Info radio and Le Parisien newspaper published on Monday showed Macron at 56%, up 0.5% from the previous day and 3% from the first round. An Ifop poll showed a similar trend, but with the rating unchanged from the previous day at 53.5%.

Both candidates face the challenge of reaching out to left-leaning voters after their nominees have been eliminated, while maintaining their political brands, a particularly difficult task for Le Pen when it comes to Islam and immigration.

Le Pen has in recent years softened her image, shifting her focus from identity issues to purchasing power, the number one priority for French voters, but she has not abandoned far-right politics. Read more

“People who are present on our territory, who respect our laws, who respect our values, who have sometimes worked in France, have nothing to fear from the policy I want to pursue,” Le Pen told France radio. Blue.

Issues with France’s Muslim population, one of the largest in Europe, have become a hot topic in a country that has seen a series of deadly extremist attacks. Read more

Lawyers in France have said banning the hijab would violate the French constitution.

On Friday, Le Pen looked sheepish when she was accosted by a hijab-wearing woman in front of the cameras, who told her to “leave the Muslims alone”, adding: “We are French, we love this country”.

The next day, Le Pen said she recognized the issue was complex, adding that parliament would have a say in the decision and any unwanted legislation could be repealed.

Emmanuel Macron, who last weekend pledged to step up his efforts against climate change as he spoke at an event in the far-left stronghold of Marseille, reiterated his warnings to progressive voters.

“I say to all those who are still hesitating: there will be a clear referendum on April 24 because the far-right candidate is against Europe and against (politics) climate,” he said on France 5. .

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Reporting by Tassilo Hummel; Editing by Jan Harvey and Barbara Lewis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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