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It is not easy for many French Muslims to choose between Macron and Le Pen

It is not easy for many French Muslims to choose between Macron and Le Pen

It is estimated that there are at least five million Muslims in France. There is much more than in other Western European countries (estimated in Italy be less than three million) and represent more than seven percent of the population. Historically, they have had little electoral effect: because Muslims in many cases voted for factors other than their religion and because there was often a strong abstention among them.

In tomorrow’s vote between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, which is separated according to opinion polls by nearly ten percentage points, Muslims’ vote could be decisive.

However, it is difficult to understand who the majority of them would vote for and whether they would choose to. In the first round, many actually voted for the radical leftist candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and it is not clear whether they would now prefer Le Pen, who is highly critical of Islam and Muslims, or whether they would vote instead for him. Macron, who during these five years made decisions and positions that distanced him from many Muslim voters. Books for “French Muslims” The New York Times “It is a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils.”

Two weeks ago, in the first round, 7.7 million French people voted for Mélenchon, equaling 21.9 percent of the vote (Macron received 27.6 percent and Le Pen 23.4 percent). According to IFOP (Institut français d’opinion publicone of the most reliable polling institutes in France), in the first round I voted For Melenchon nearly 70 percent of the Muslim electorate. Mélenchon was also the most voted candidate in the areas north of Paris with the highest Muslim population. According to IFOP data, instead, 14 percent of French Muslims would have voted for Macron (ten percentage points lower than in 2017) and 7 percent for Le Pen (a slight increase compared to 5 percent of French Muslims). five years ago).

The Great Mosque of Paris (Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)

Julien Talpin, a sociologist and researcher at the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris, told The New York Times That rallying most Muslims in favor of one candidate is “a completely new thing” and that in the past, despite Le Pen’s critical stances, his opponents have generally done little to attract Muslim voters.

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To win the votes of many Muslim voters, Melenchon over the past five years has expressed progressive ideas in favor of immigration and a multicultural society, criticizing the positions of Le Pen and the far-right candidate on several occasions. Eric ZemmourAccording to which France is subject to “religious colonialism”.

Paris, October 2020 (Abdulmonam Eassa / Getty Images)

Mélenchon also managed to bring together many of Macron’s former voters, who, after supporting him and voting in 2017, felt betrayed by what he had done as president. Mélenchon was the “only real option” for those disappointed by Macron, He said to me financial times IFOP President Jerome Fourquet.

Macron, who accepted the candidacy for the presidency with En Marche! He had introduced himself to the Economy Minister in the Socialist-led government, François Hollande, during the election campaign five years ago, saying he was a strong supporter of a multicultural France. In his appearance as an independent and his desire to avoid any identification (he said he was “neither right nor left”), Macron particularly undermined part of the moderate left, from which he received a large share of his votes.

However, as soon as he became president, he moved decisively to the right, and captured a great deal of the confidence of those who, up to that point, had indicated that political area. He did it too Sensitive issues for many Muslim votersEspecially after the beheading of a teacher by an Islamic fundamentalist Samuel Batethat took place in 2020 in Paris. For example, it supported a law that led to the closure of hundreds of institutions linked to the Islamic faith and the confiscation of assets totaling more than 46 million euros, with the aim of fighting radical Islam. The law, which was passed in the summer of 2021, sparked a lot of criticism, in France And abroad.

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Moreover, in recent months, some ministers of Macron’s government have also been cited for statements that “it seems that they want to bypass Le Pen on the right,” he wrote. The New York Times. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has accused Le Pen of being too “soft” towards Islam, and Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer has always supported the headscarf ban in public schools, in force since 2004.

Attitudes and attitudes of this kind, on the part of Macron and people close to him politically, made the idea that Muslim voters might prefer Le Pen over him, due to their inability to vote for Mélenchon. Despite ideas very far from Melenchon’s, there are still voters – not only of the Muslim faith – who can choose to vote for her because of some of her positions in favor of the poorer segments of the population, or even, more simply, out of some kind of malice. against Macron.

This is the case, for example, of Islam Minyan, a 29-year-old Frenchman who resides in Bondy, a city north of Paris famous for its high proportion of Muslims. In the first round, Minyan voted for Mélenchon (who was the most voted for Bundy), but in The New York Times He said he was now considering voting for Le Pen, both because of his economic policies and concern for working people and the youth, and also because he prefers her as a personality to Macron. “She’s a human being, a woman, and she seems to want to defend her country: it might be a nice surprise,” he said.

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