Growing anti-Muslim rhetoric permeates French presidential election campaign

The Washington Post reports: For some, the French presidential election will alter the course of a troubled nation steeped in economic and social turmoil. For others, it will alter the course of a troubled continent, challenging the very existence of European integration.

But in France itself, something far less abstract and far more intimate is at stake. In a country that remains under an official “state of emergency” following an unprecedented spate of terrorist violence in the past two years, the election also has become a referendum on Muslims and their place in what is probably Europe’s most anxious multicultural society.

Before the election’s first round of voting Sunday, each of the five leading contenders — from across the ideological spectrum — has felt compelled to address an apparently pressing “Muslim question” about what to do with the country’s largest religious minority.

Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front, has made her answer crystal clear. In February, in the same speech in which she declared her candidacy for president, she decried “Islamist globalization,” which she called an “ideology that wants to bring France to its knees.”

While Le Pen’s diverse array of opponents do not all share her extremity or conviction, each seems to agree that, when it comes to Muslims, something needs to be done. [Continue reading…]

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