Note: This article came out before the election in France was decided against Le Pen. But it is worth reading now as it shows that the issues are more complex than anything that can be settled with these results.
Marine Le Pen, who wants to ban the Islamic headscarf, could still pull off a shock election win but that doesn’t mean France’s Muslim voters are all panicking over the far-right, National Front candidate taking power.
Even though she herself has moved to soften her image with Muslim voters by insisting their religion is indeed “compatible with the French Republic” (much to the disgust of some in her party), it’s not hard to see why she has a reputation for being an Islamophobe.
She once described Muslims praying in the streets of French cities in protest over a lack of mosque space to being akin to the Nazi occupation and has regularly taken aim at halal food, the veil, the burkini, and various other aspects of Muslim culture.
The grand mosque in Paris is taking no chances on her, and urged voters last week to vote “massively” for Emmanuel Macron, saying his campaign “promises to be decisive for the future of France and its religious minorities”.
But even though Macron is leading in the polls by over 20 points, no one is ruling out a Le Pen victory, and you may think this would have France’s Muslim community, believed to number between four and six million, in a panic.
But while there is no doubt concern, there are reasons why France’s Muslims are not all frantically preparing for the worst.