France: Macron’s Party Disavows Hijab Wearing Candidate

Rabat – France’s ruling party La Republique en Marche (LREM), is turning on its own, withdrawing support for a running candidate who was pictured wearing a hijab in a campaign poster. The tensions arose on May 10, when Stanislas Guerini, the party’s general secretary, turned on 25-year-old Sara Zemmahi, an engineer who was running for […] The post France: Macron’s Party Disavows Hijab Wearing Candidate appeared first on Morocco World News.

Rabat – France’s ruling party La Republique en Marche (LREM), is turning on its own, withdrawing support for a running candidate who was pictured wearing a hijab in a campaign poster.

The tensions arose on May 10, when Stanislas Guerini, the party’s general secretary, turned on 25-year-old Sara Zemmahi, an engineer who was running for the upcoming June elections in Montpellier, southern France. Guerini issued an ultimatum: “Either these candidates change their photo, or LREM will withdraw its support.”

Guerini later reiterated his comments in an interview with RTL radio: “This woman will not be an En Marche candidate.”

Following his electoral victory in 2017,  Emmanuel Macron began his presidency with priding himself on embracing multiculturalism and diversity. In recent months, however, he has doubled down on an increasingly right-wing rhetoric, particularly on Islam’s supposedly “separatist” tendencies.

Read also: Tracking Europe’s Shift Towards Nationalism, Islamophobia

Some observers have seen this change of attitude as an attempt to secure his victory against the far-right opposition party, the National Front, headed by Marine Le Pen.

“Undignified. Running after the National Front will only serve to gain their ideas. That’s enough,” wrote Caroline Janvier, a LREM lawmaker. Janvier added in another tweet: “The law does not prohibit a candidate from appearing with a veil. It is up to the voters to choose whether they agree with this posting.”

Zemmahi’s running mate also came to her defense.

“I see Sara’s abilities – I don’t see what she’s wearing,” Mahfoud Benali, also pictured on the poster, told the local media.

Helene Qvistgaard, another LREM candidate, further doubled down on Zemmahi’s defense.

“We have remained within the framework of the law only. Sara was born in 1995, she is involved in local community life, she is a qualified engineer, she went to the university of pharmacy in Montpellier… For us, all the people who are on this poster represent the French Republic,” she told Europe 1.

Passive Islamophobia

Opposition to France’s ruling party has been steadily growing, both from the right-wing faction of the government, as well as those for whom LREM’s lukewarm centrist politics are not leftist enough.

As a result, Macron has been treading carefully to sway potential Le Pen voters — as well as a sizable portion of “soft” leftists — towards his well-established centrism. This has taken the form of what Macron has vaguely framed as “a war against Islamist separatism” and the dangers it poses to France’s core values.

Just a few days ago,  an open letter signed by 1330,000, including many high-ranking army officials, warned of a “civil war… brewing in France” as a result of the government’s “concessions” to Islamism.

“If a civil war breaks out, the military will maintain order on its own soil… We are not talking about extending your mandates or conquering others. We are talking about the survival of our country, the survival of your country,” it said.

The French President has made few efforts to counter the narrative. While the French Prime Minister Jean Castex told Le Parisien that the letter was a “political manoeuvre” by the “extreme right,” he did little to defend French Muslims.

At most, the French army chief of staff, Thierry Burkhard, urged soldiers to resign if they signed the controversial letter.

More than simple inaction, however, Macron’s party has been instrumental in the adoption of a controversial “separatism bill” that is set to disproportionately affect Muslims. Many critics have accused the French government of unfairly targeting Islam.

The post France: Macron’s Party Disavows Hijab Wearing Candidate appeared first on Morocco World News.