NPA

Islamophobia in France has been growing in strength for many years, but has dangerously accelerated in recent weeks, writes John Mullen.

For the first time since France’s fifth republic was established in 1958, the presidential run-off to be held on May 7 won’t involve a candidate from either the traditional centre-left or centre-right parties.

Former investment banker and ex-government minister Emmanuel Macron (24%) and far right National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen (21.3%) topped the results in the first round of France’s presidential elections on April 23.

The political situation in France is dominated by the struggle against the proposed reform of the pension system to raise the age of retirement, among other things. This reform is at the heart of French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s austerity policy. Although presented as a demographic necessity, it is increasingly opposed by the public. The struggle has been growing since the start of the mobilisations in May and the first day of action in June. Since the beginning of September, three days of strikes and demonstrations have brought out about 3 million people on each occasion.
Laws punishing women for wearing the burqa and the niqab in public were passed by the Belgian lower house of parliament on April 29. A similar law has been discussed by French President Nicholas Sarkozy, and the French National Assembly passed a non-binding resolution in favour of a ban on May 11. These laws have been pushed by right-wing governments on the basis of security needs and protecting national identity, but the laws have also been justified as promoting equality for women. On this basis, the laws have received support from sections of the left and the feminist movement.
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