Macron courts Muslim vote in last-minute visit to Paris banlieue – POLITICO

SAINT-DENIS, France — Emmanuel Macron is wooing disaffected left-wing voters and warning them in opposition to abstaining in Sunday’s presidential election runoff by spelling out simply what a victory for his far-right rival Marine Le Pen would imply for France’s Muslim neighborhood.

The president-candidate on Thursday visited Saint-Denis, a multicultural commune in Paris’s northern suburbs, in a last-ditch try and win the assist of a various and working-class neighborhood that closely backed veteran left-winger Jean-Luc Mélenchon within the first spherical of the election on April 10.

With far-right candidates Eric Zemmour and Le Pen stigmatizing France’s Muslims, Mélenchon emerged as their defender, denouncing a rampant “anti-Muslim sentiment” within the nation. Ahead of Sunday’s runoff vote, lots of Mélenchon’s supporters are hesitating between staying residence, casting a clean poll or voting for Macron.

Meeting native teams within the city sq., Macron sought to warn in opposition to the results of Le Pen making it to the Elysée.

After promising to do extra for deprived neighborhoods, he slammed Le Pen’s proposal to order social housing for French individuals, accusing his opponent of desirous to exclude overseas residents from social housing.

As an instance, he stated, “a young Moroccan lady who has two children, who works at the hospital, who was applauded every evening during the pandemic … with Madame Le Pen’s program, we will take away her social housing and her family benefits.”

“It’s a program of discord,” Macron advised reporters, accusing Le Pen of “mixing up terrorism, insecurity, immigration, Islam and Islamism all the time.”

This week, Le Pen pressured she was not planning to expel overseas residents as her proposal wouldn’t apply retrospectively.

The president was given a combined reception, with some teams singing anti-Macron chants — borrowed from the Yellow Jackets motion — and others cheering him on.

In the primary spherical of the presidential election, Mélenchon triumphed within the Seine-Saint-Denis division with 49 p.c of the vote, and significantly robust backing from Muslim voters. In the city of Saint-Denis itself he received greater than 60 p.c.

Keeping Seine-Saint-Denis voters away from Le Pen shouldn’t be that tough because the multicultural neighborhood is the worst viewers for Le Pen’s divisive proposals on immigration and on banning the Muslim scarf.

But convincing these voters to again Macron will likely be a more durable ask.

Seine-Saint Denis registered the best abstention fee amongst all French departments within the first spherical. The division’s Socialist president and greater than a dozen mayors have this week urged voters to again Macron on Sunday. “If Marine Le Pen would catastrophically win, the first victims would be here,” warned Mathieu Hanotin, the Socialist mayor of Saint-Denis, who accompanied Macron on his walkabout.

Mélenchon has advised his voters to not vote for Le Pen, however has not explicitly referred to as on them to again Macron.

Headscarf debate

With Mélenchon now out of the race, Macron is doing what he can to get these votes, and seized on Le Pen’s proposal to ban the Muslim scarf in public as an opportunity to distance himself from his rival and seem nearer to French muslims.

During Wednesday’s televised election debate, Macron slammed the thought of banning the hijab in public, warning Le Pen it may “lead to civil war.” Speaking in Saint-Denis, he repeated that no different nation on the planet has such a ban.

“On the headscarf, what you [Le Pen] are proposing is a treason of French values, of the Republic,” he stated.

That marks a refined change from earlier typically ambiguous feedback on the scarf by Macron and his ministers. Although he has persistently opposed banning the hijab in public, he hinted in 2018 that it wasn’t absolutely in step with French requirements on gender equality.

While some Saint-Denis voters will rally to Macron’s aspect, others are nonetheless wavering.

A trainer, who didn’t need to give his identify, stated that warning a couple of Le Pen presidency “is not a good argument” for voting Macron. The president’s “left turn is not sincere and comes too late,” he stated, including he would keep residence on Sunday after voting for Mélenchon within the first spherical.

Khadijah, a 62-year-old Algerian pensioner carrying a scarf, who additionally voted for Mélenchon, stated Le Pen’s scarf ban “would trigger a war here” and she is going to vote for Macron.

“He will win, Inshallah,” she stated.

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