Marine Le Pen is showing no sign of moderating her rhetoric as she claimed France was under the threat of two “totalitarianisms” – economic globalisation and Islamic fundamentalism.
In a speech to launch her campaign for the presidential race, the leader of the far-right Front National (FN) said mosques, “prayers in the streets” and the veil worn by Muslim women were threats to France’s culture and values and that “no French person, no Republican and no women attached to their dignity could accept it”.
“We do not want to live under the yoke of the threat of Islamic fundamentalism,” she said at her party’s conference in Lyon.
Ms Le Pen claimed “mass immigration” caused by globalisation left French people feeling “dispossessed” of their own country and allowed Islamic fundamentalism, an ideological “enemy of France” to settle on its territory.
“Islamic fundamentalism is attacking us at home,” she said, and went on to compare Islamists settling in France to wolves in a henhouse and claimed Islamic fundamentalism was “planting itself in some neighbourhoods and vulnerable minds.
“The places of Islamic preaching will be closed and the propagators of hate will be condemned and expelled,” she said.
Thousands of flag-wavers chanted “we are at home” and “Marine President” during the party leader’s speech. Ms Le Pen was greeted with loud cheers after she said immigrants without papers would be denied free health care and foreigners who committed crimes would be expelled.
Immigration and fear of radicalisation have been consistent themes for Ms Le Pen’s FN, with strong focus on the terrorist attacks that have taken place in France in the last two years.
Her speech comes just two days after an Egyptian man accused of attempting to carry out a terror attack on the Louvre museum in Paris, was shot four times by soldiers after attacking one of them with a machete.
Ms Le Pen said Islam demanded “for us to adapt, which cannot be reasonable or conceivable”.
Emphasising France’s Christian heritage, she said French people were “having ways of thinking imposed that are opposite to ours”.
The majority of opinion polls currently show Ms Le Pen winning the first round of France’s presidential election on 23 April but losing the run-off vote in May.
Running “in the name of the people”, Ms Le Pen reaffirmed the FN’s anti-immigration, protectionist, anti-European Union and populist stance.
“The divide is not between the left and right anymore, but between patriots and globalists,” she said.
“Financial globalisation and Islamist globalisation are helping each other out. Those two ideologies want to bring France to its knees,” she added.
Ms Le Pen’s 144 campaign “commitments” published this weekend include policies that would curb immigration to a maximum of 10,000 people per year, expel all illegal migrants and make certain rights now available to all residents, including free education, available to French citizens only.
Ms Le Pen also wants to pull out of the Euro to go back to francs, hold a referendum on EU membership within six months, and slap taxes on imports and the employment of foreigners.
She congratulated the British people for voting for Brexit and the Americans for the election of Donald Trump as choices for liberty and warned that times were changing.
“The British have chosen liberty with Brexit and can congratulate themselves every day. The Americans have made the choice for their national interests. The awakening of the people against oligarchies can become a reality, and the impossible can become possible. This awakening marks the end of an era,” she said.
A day before Ms Le Pen’s speech, France’s independent candidate Emmanuel Macron publicly criticised the FN and its leader, saying she “betrays” France’s historical values.
Also speaking in Lyon, Mr Macron, who did not directly name Ms Le Pen and the FN, said: “They don’t speak in the name of the people, they speak in the name of their bitterness, they speak for themselves, from father to daughter and daughter to niece.
“They betray liberty by shrinking our horizons, they betray equality by stating that some are more equal than others, they betray fraternity because they hate the faces that don’t look like theirs.”
Mr Macron, who quit the Socialist government to create his own political movement “En Marche!”, recently surged in the polls after right-wing candidate François Fillon became embroiled in a scandal over payments to his wife for work she had allegedly never done.
Current polls suggest Mr Macron will win the presidential race in a head-to-head with Ms Le Pen in the second round.
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