France’s Muslims urged to vote for Macron in run-off

25th Apr 2017
France’s Muslims urged to vote for Macron in run-off

By Hajer M’tiri

 

PARIS (AA): The head of the Grand Mosque of Paris on Monday called on French Muslims to vote for centrist independent candidate Emmanuel Macron in the decisive presidential run-off on May 7.

Dalil Boubakeur urged the country’s nearly 5 million Muslims to “vote massively” to elect Macron, describing the second round of the vote as “decisive for the destiny of France and its religious minorities.”

“The Grand Mosque of Paris and its National Federation (FGMP) call on Muslims in France to vote massively for candidate Emmanuel Macron,” Boubakeur said in a statement.

Without explicit reference to far-right candidate Marine Le Pen explicitly, the senior French Muslim leader said French citizens had to comprehend the “threat embodied by xenophobic ideas dangerous to our cohesion”.

Muslims “must choose among the candidates the one who defends fraternity among citizens, not discord or hatred,” he added.

Macron passed far-right leader Le Pen with 23.75 percent of the vote to the latter’s 21.53 percent in Sunday’s first round, according to the Interior Ministry.

Several French student unions and anti-far-right movements such as SOS RACISM are calling to block the far-right candidate in the second round, and are staging demonstrations across France on Monday evening, in a bid to convince people to vote against Le Pen.

The demonstrations are planned in Paris, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Grenoble and other cities.

Police made at least 29 arrests after clashes erupted on the Place de la Bastille in eastern Paris on Sunday.

Crowds of young people, mixed with members of anarchist and anti-fascist groups, had gathered to protest Le Pen’s second-place finish and her hardline, anti-immigrant policies.

Surveys projecting a second-round clash between Macron and Le Pen have consistently shown the centrist candidate winning by a comfortable margin.

The first opinion poll published after Sunday’s results showed Macron beating far-right candidate Le Pen in the second round by 61 percent to 39 percent.

The new president will be formally confirmed by mid-May.

The presidential poll is to be followed by a two-round legislative election to select the parliament in June.

Former economy minister Macron said on last year that France had sometimes made mistakes in unfairly targeting Muslims.

He made his comments at a rally in the southern city of Monpellier.

“No religion is a problem in France today,” he told the crowd. “If the state should be neutral, which is at the heart of secularism, we have a duty to let everybody practice their religion with dignity,” Macron said when he had not yet declared he would be standing for Presidential election.

French Muslims overwhelmingly backed Socialist François Hollande at the last election in 2012; nearly 90 percent chose him over the right-wing incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.

Additional reporting by The Muslim News

[Photo: French Presidential Election candidate Emmanuel Macron (C) poses with his supporters during a campaign meeting at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, France on April 17, 2017. Photographer: Muhabiri Mustafa Yalçın/AA]

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