Emmanuel Macron’s centrist ruling party has barred a hijab-wearing Muslim candidate from running in a local election after she was photographed in the hijab for an election campaign poster. Macron’s La Republique en Marche (LREM) clarified that in secular France, there should be no place for the overt display of religious symbols like the hijab on electoral campaign documents or electoral paraphernalia.
“This woman will not be an en Marche candidate,” Stanislas Guerini, LREM’s general secretary, told RTL radio, referring to Sara Zemmahi, the barred hijabi candidate.
According to Reuters, an LREM official close to Guerini said that Zemmahi would be officially informed of the party’s decision in writing.
In the poster, Zemmahi is pictured wearing a white hijab, a religious symbol worn by Muslim women, standing alongside three other people. The words “Different, but united for you” on the flyer appear to be a message in favor of diversity.
The controversy broke out when opposition leader Jordan Bardella, number two in Marine Le Pen’s right-wing party, tweeted the image of the poster on Twitter, rhetorically asking, “Is this how you fight separatism?”
In response to this tweet, Stanislas Guerini demanded on Twitter itself for the flyer be withdrawn or the candidate Sara Zemmahi lose the party’s support.
Another LREM legislator, Roland Lescure, told Reuters: “It’s an explosive subject. Political Islam is a reality, it is a simmering threat in some neighborhoods and we have to be very firm.”
French soldiers warn, ‘Islamism will lead to civil war’
In a second warning to the French government, a group of presently serving French soldiers published an open letter in a conservative magazine warning the French President Macron of a brewing ‘civil war.’
The letter raised concerns over the survival of France, warning the President against the ‘concessions’ he made to Islamism despite being aware of the potential threat.
The letter, which received 76,461 anonymous signatures, comes ahead of the 2022 polls where Macron’s main opposition is said to be the right-wing leader Marine Le Pen.
An interactive poll conducted last week observed that 58% of French people agreed with the sentiments in the letter.