Dubai / TEH: On Sunday, April 10, 2022, French voters head to the polls in the first round of the French Presidential Election 2022 to choose a president to lead France for a five-year term.
For the presidential seat, 12 candidates, 8 men and 4 women, are competing, but opinion polls showed that only six of them are the most prominent in the race.
Among the six main contenders, three belong to the political right and two from the extreme left. The sixth is President Emmanuel Macron, who has been at the Elysee Palace since May 2017.
Macron, 44, emerged from the mantle of the Socialist Party (left) and founded the “La République En Marche” party.
Macron is seen as a “centrist”, attracting voters from both the right and the left.
Besides Macron, the leading candidates are right-wing Republican candidate Valerie Beckers, Socialist Party (left) candidate Anne Hidalgo and “La France Insoumise” (ultra-left) Jean-Luc Melenchon.
As well as the right-wing National Rally candidate Marine Le Pen, and the right-wing Reconquête candidate Eric Zemmour.
The traditional left is absent from these elections after a series of major setbacks, while it is witnessing a prominent presence of supporters of the right-wing anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant movement.
The number of Muslims in France was about 5.7 million as of mid-2016, and they represented 8.8 percent of the total population.
According to election campaign observers, the leaders of the right-wing movement, Eric Zemmour, Marine Le Pen and Valerie Beckers, are competing for who will be the “most hostile and extremist against Muslims and immigrants.”
Macron was not inferior to Muslims. During his presidency, the “anti-Islamic separatism” law was passed in July 2021.
This law faces accusations of targeting Muslims in France by imposing restrictions on all aspects of their lives.
The law provides for oversight of mosques and associations responsible for their management and for monitoring the financing of Muslim civic organizations.
It also imposes restrictions on Muslim families’ freedom to educate their children at home.
Macron often provoked Muslims with anti-Islam statements, such as saying that “Islam is in crisis.”
As well as not rejecting caricatures offensive to the Prophet Muhammad, and dissolving Muslim associations, including the “Rally against Islamophobia in France.”
The French Presidential Election 2022 campaigns of the far-right candidates were fueled by anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant statements and calls that fuel “Islamophobia” (fear of Islam), according to observers.
At the forefront of these candidates is the founder of the “Reconquête” party, Eric Zemmour, 63, whose rhetoric tends to the far-right more than his rival Marine Le Pen.
Zemmour goes far in his speeches on the issue of “identity” and the fight against Islam and was twice convicted of inciting hatred.
He revealed his expected policy toward Muslims, if he wins the presidency, saying in repeated statements: “I will ban the veil, stop the call to prayer and close major mosques because it means the invasion of France.”
Zemmour also vowed to Muslims that he would prevent them from naming their children after “Muhammad”, saying in September 2021: “If I become president of France, the name Muhammad will be prohibited to the French.”
He added that “Law 1803 in France”, which prohibits the French from giving non-French names, will be activated.
He also hinted, in press statements, that he intends to ban “halal butcher shops” that serve Muslims.
In February, Zemmour said that France would “dispense with Algerian doctors” if he won the presidency.
This statement came after 1,200 Algerian doctors out of 2,000 candidates succeeded in a competition enabling them to practice their profession in France.
Zemmour promised to put an end to this competition, which aims to attract foreign doctors.
He said, “We have been going for 30 years to bring in doctors from Algeria, while we prevent French youth from specializing in this field because of a quarter of a point (lower in study test scores).”
Zemmour considered that immigration “weakened and impoverished France and caused a kind of chaos.”
And his electoral program includes provisions against Muslims and immigrants, most notably limiting the immigration policy to France and stopping social assistance provided to immigrants.
He plans to expel irregular immigrants from France, especially those involved in misdemeanors and other cases, in addition to stripping the citizenship of those who repeat crimes.
Marine Le Pen
Eric Zemmour and Marine Le Pen, 53, the leader of the right-wing National Rally party, are espousing the “Great Replacement” theory.
The idea of this theory is that foreign people (Muslims for example) will replace the French people, which is the reason behind their fear and hostility toward Muslims.
Le Pen, like Zamour, focuses on Muslims to gain greater popularity, albeit by inciting discrimination and racism against the second largest religion in France after Christianity.
Often, this time Le Pen is counting on mobilizing her supporters to turn the tables on Macron, who all polls predict will be re-elected as president.
Since she began announcing her candidacy for the presidential elections, 10 years ago, Le Pen has stirred up feelings of hatred against Muslims.
Le Pen is known as the descendant of a “racist fascist family” who dreams of a “white Christian France” in which there is no place for foreigners in general, and Muslims in particular.
Marine is the granddaughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, a grandfather known for his racist and fascist views, and surrounds herself with the idea that Islam is the number one enemy of the French nation.
Le Pen hinted, at the end of last March, that if she lost the French Presidential Election 2022, “she might not run for the presidency again,” according to an interview with the newspaper “Le Journal du Dimanche”.
In February, bloggers described the comments of Valerie Beckers, 54, the Republican nominee, as a zealot rivalry in the race for who is the most extreme and racist against Muslims.
During a media appearance, Valerie attacked her far-right opponent, Zemmour.
She said that she fought a struggle against “Islamism” and stood behind the laws banning the burqa and restrictions on veiled women for more than 12 years, while Zamour was just a TV presenter.
In her defense of secularism, Peckers promised to “eliminate all manifestations of Islam in France”.
She said at an election rally in the capital, Paris, that “the veil is not a piece of clothing like any other, and it is not a religious obligation. It is a sign of women’s submission.”
And she continued, “If I become the president of the republic, no woman will be submissive.”
Beckers suggests “the deportation of foreigners who pose a threat to public security, especially those who adopt an extremist Islamic discourse.”
She accused Macron of condoning “Islamism, uncontrolled immigration and increasing insecurity”.
If no candidate wins an absolute majority in the first round of the French Presidential Election 2022 on Sunday, a second-round will be held on April 24, 2022, between the first and second runners-up in the number of votes.
These elections, the French Presidential Election 2022, are the 12th since the establishment of the so-called “Fifth Republic“, and it refers to the fifth and current republican constitution in France, which was enforced on October 4, 1958.