French President Emmanuel Macron was forced to address the sensitive topic of mass migration and the influx of Muslim immigrants at a recent presidential debate with primary challenger Marine Le Pen, who’s running for his seat in the ongoing elections.
Speaking at the debate, Macron claimed that banning the Islamic veil, which is used by women, would spark a “civil war” in France despite widespread support for such a measure among the French populace.
Le Pen, who has repeatedly called for a ban on the burka, has denied “carrying out a war against” Islam, and that she — like other conservative European leaders, are simply calling for a hijab ban in public spaces.
“I am for the banning of the veil in public space,” said Le Pen, Summit News reported. “The veil is a uniform imposed by the Islamists, a large part of the young women who put it on cannot do otherwise in reality, even if they dare not say so.”
“What you’re saying is very serious,” Macron replied. “You’re going to create civil war if you do it.”
As detailed in French polls, the majority of France agrees with Le Pen on a ban of the veils. A poll conducted in March found that more than 61% of voters were in favour of the move, and a more recent survey found that 35% were “totally for” banning the veil, while 25% were “rather for” banning it.
Similar bans have already been enacted in Switzerland, Denmark, Austria and other countries.
Macron’s position on the issue has earned him the support of the Great Mosque of Paris, which urged Muslims to vote for Macron. The mosque’s rector, Chems-Eddine Hafiz, recently declared “malicious forces are speaking out today calling for the banishment of Muslims.”
“Abstention from voting and the blank votes will strengthen the far-right wing,” he added.
The result of the election may have long-term ramifications for France as a country, with statistics showing that nearly 25% of newborn babies in France are now being given Arabic names.