With the French election beginning to come into its final stretch, the candidates have begun to make their foreign relations pitch. The Liberal Emmanuel Macron, who has stormed to within reckoning as of late, recently went to the United Kingdom to make his pitch to the UK-based French community; saying that there will be no barriers even for the British people to seek work in France after Brexit. In more recent days however, the headlines have been taken up by far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.
Le Pen’s first state visit was to Lebanon, a country that France has always had close relations with. In fact they held a lot of influence over the region when it was under Ottoman Rule, and it also colonised the Middle Eastern country between 1920 and 1943. Le Pen had a meeting scheduled with the Grand Mufti of Lebanon but, despite being advised before-hand, she refused to wear a headscarf, as is in line with Lebanese culture, and as a result the meeting was cancelled.
Aside from the fact that this is nothing but a publicity stunt on Le Pen’s part to reinforce her hold on France’s right-wingers; I see this as an exhibition of total hypocrisy. Le Pen’s campaign has been anti-immigrant and, more than that, anti-Muslim right from the off. Her main rallying cry was the assertion that French culture and tradition should not be compromised to accommodate the foreigner. It is ironic therefore that Le Pen, a foreigner in this case, would think that she has the right to go against the traditional values of the country she is visiting. After all her rhetoric in fact, it’s hypocrisy at its most defined.
Le Pen has proposed a ban on all religious headgear in public as part of her manifesto; but the question with this proposition is if this will extend to ALL religions – including Christianity. Considering that Le Pen has shown herself to be motivated not by a desire for secularisation but by a racist desire to systematically remove the privileges of France’s Muslim community; I somehow find it hard to believe that this proposed ban will apply to all.
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